Yes. We have many clients who speak English, Arabic, French, Russian, Mam, etc. If you would like to get involved but do not have Spanish language capabilities, we can look out for a non-Spanish speaking clients for you. We also recommend you invite a Spanish speaking colleague to join your team.

To read more about options for how to work with non-English speaking clients, read our informative blog post on the subject.

Yes. Defensive immigration cases for adult clients are adjudicated by an immigration judge in immigration court. If you are looking for litigation experience, adult immigration clients are a superb pro bono client. Cases almost always go to trial; trials are short (three to four hours); and trial dates usually are set two to three months out, meaning your case will not drag on for years.

And the best reason to litigation in immigration court? The federal rules of evidence are only guidelines. Forget about laying foundations or qualifying experts; just enjoy a pure form of litigation where your advocacy is the key to your client’s case.

No. Our policy is to not cover pro bono attorneys under the CAIR Coalition malpractice insurance.

Most of our child clients spend three to four months in detention and then are reunified with family or family friends. This means that your child client will likely be living in a family home in Maryland, Virginia, or Washington, D.C. by the time you first meet them.

Our adult clients remain detained during their cases in one of several detention facilities located in Virginia and Maryland. The closest facility is Howard County Detention Facility, which is 40 minutes from Washington, D.C. The furthest is Farmville Detention Facility, which is 3 hours from Washington, D.C.

We recommend that pro bono teams meet with their client in person at least once at the outset of proceedings and once during trial prep, although many pro bono teams schedule more in-person meetings. For facilities further away, we operate a system that allows you to meet with your client via video conference from our K Street office.

We ask that pro bono teams that take on a pro bono client commit to covering litigation expenses associated with the case. In some cases, this includes expert witnesses and translation/interpretation costs. In other cases, there will be only minimal costs associated with printing and mailing. We always talk interested pro bono teams through potential costs before placing a case with the team.

No. Many of our pro bono attorneys have never worked in the immigration field or appeared in immigration court before. CAIR Coalition offers robust mentoring for every one of our pro bono cases. Each pro bono team is assigned a staff attorney from CAIR Coalition to serve as a mentor from start to finish. This includes providing guidance and samples, review of draft filings, trouble shooting, and help prepping for trial. We also have an excellent Samples Library, accessible to all pro bono teams. Rest assured that when you take a case with CAIR Coalition, we will be with you every step of the way.

What type of cases does CAIR Coalition place with pro bono teams?

There are numerous defenses to deportation which a detained immigrant can employ in fighting their case. When working with pro bono teams, our clients’ cases typically fall into one of the following categories:

  • Children’s Asylum—available to children with a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. These cases generally do not involve in-court litigation.
  • Adult Asylum—available to adult immigrants who fear returning to their home country on the basis of a protected ground. Alternatively, clients often apply for “withholding of removal” and/or protection under the “Convention Against Torture.” These are also fear-based relief options, but have slightly different legal thresholds from a standard asylum claim. These cases provide in-court litigation experience.
  • Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)—available to unaccompanied immigrant children who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned, who cannot be reunified with one or both parents, and for whom returning to their home country is not in their best interest.  SIJS requires two approvals, one from a state family court and one from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  • T-Visa—available to child or adult victims of human trafficking (sex or labor, generally) who are in the U.S. on account of that trafficking, and who would suffer extreme hardship if removed from the U.S. T-Visa cases do not require an interview or hearing.
  • U-Visa—available to immigrant victims of certain serious crimes who have been, or will likely be, helpful in the investigation and prosecution of those crimes. U-Visas are available to both children and adult immigrants. U-Visa cases do not require an interview or hearing.
  • Green Card Defense—available to certain long-time Green Card Holders who find themselves in removal proceedings as a result of criminal charges. They can apply for a one-time discretionary waiver that permits an Immigration Judge to cancel the removal. These cases provide in-court litigation experience.
  • Federal Habeas Corpus—a special form of relief available to noncitizens that face prolonged or indefinite detention, with the goal of securing their release. The habeas petition is filed in the federal district court near the detention facility that holds the client.

Yes. Children’s asylum cases are adjudicated in an interview process that is non-adversarial. This is a great way for attorneys who are not litigators to stretch their advocacy muscles without having to litigate in court.

Yes. T-Visa and U-Visa cases require no hearings and are adjudicated on the papers. You will not have to appear in any forum but will still get to work with, and advocate for, your client.

For most of the pro bono cases that CAIR Coalition places with volunteer attorneys, you need only be barred somewhere in the United States. This is because the majority of our cases are adjudicated in immigration court. To appear in immigration court, an attorney must be a member in good standing of the bar of the highest court of any state, possession, territory, or Commonwealth of the United States, or the District of Columbia.

The exception to this is a unique type of children’s case known as Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). As an SIJS case requires an appearance in state family court, a bar membership in Virginia or Maryland (depending on the child’s residency) is required.

As the only legal non-profit servicing the detained immigrant population of Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., our clients all come to us while they are detained. CAIR Coalition regularly visits detention centers to educate immigrants about their rights and conduct a preliminary intake to identify potential clients for pro bono teams.

Prior to placing any case with a pro bono team, CAIR Coalition staff undertakes a thorough review of the client’s legal options. This includes interviews with the client, conversations with the client’s family and friends, and review of public records. While we cannot guarantee the results of any case or that a case will not have a few twists and turns, we can guarantee that we will not place a case with a pro bono team before we do industry-leading due diligence.

Please contact Michael Lukens, Pro Bono Director, at or 202-870-5962. if you are interested in taking a CAIR Coalition case.

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