Since 2017 the Florence Project has worked in partnership with the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) to provide legal services to migrants in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. A program that started with one attorney has since grown to two attorneys and three legal assistants in just three years.
The Border Action Team provides legal orientations to migrants who arrive to KBI’s aid center in Nogales, Sonora. We also provide pro se assistance and legal representation to some migrants who seek asylum in the U.S. and are later detained Through this work, we work to ensure that migrants are empowered with the information they need to make decisions about their immigration cases.
The story of Yosbel and Yarlenis exemplifies the critical, lifesaving work our Border Action Team does, and the current situation on the border.
Over the past several years, attacks on access to asylum have increased at the U.S. Mexico border, including policies like metering, the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), and Title 42. In partnership with KBI, we also work with regional and national partners to preserve and restore access to asylum, which has been subject to increasing attacks for years. We have also taken a leadership role in coordinating logistics in both Arizona and Mexico between legal services and humanitarian aid organizations to meet the needs of the hundreds, or even thousands, of vulnerable migrants at the Arizona Mexico border.
Thank you for your interest in Pro Bono opportunities with the Florence Project!
The Florence Project Pro Bono Program is a full-service Pro Bono mentorship program, which means that we assign a seasoned Florence Project mentor attorney and legal assistant to each pro bono case. We provide individualized training throughout the life of a case, as well as offer periodic free continuing legal education trainings. We have a database of hundreds of templates for all steps of the case, and assist with casework, interpretation, real-time troubleshooting, innovative strategy, legal updates, and culturally relevant information.
Our children’s cases usually involve representing a minor in Immigration Court proceedings and helping them apply for relief so they can avoid removal to their country of origin. The most common types of cases we handle are Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, Asylum, and Adjustment of Status to Legal Permanent Residency.
Here are the cases currently available through our Children’s Pro Bono Program:
In January 2020, MPP (also know as “Remain in Mexico”) was implemented at the Arizona border. A border wide policy that forced nearly 70,000 people seeking asylum to wait in Mexico for court dates in their asylum cases, it has endangered the lives of every single person subjected to it. While President Biden halted new admissions to the policy when he took office, the rollback of the policy has been unwieldy and slow, and the people we serve in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico have been largely forgotten in the initial phase.
Additionally, since March 2020, the border has been effectively closed to all migrants. Virtually no one has been allowed by CBP to present at ports of entry, and anyone who crosses the border between ports of entry is immediately expelled back to Mexico without seeing an immigration judge or having their safety considered.
This policy, known as Title 42, was issued by the Trump administration despite objections by senior CDC medical experts that it lacked a public health justification. Thus far, the Biden administration has elected to keep the policy in place. Like people who have been subjected to MPP, people expelled to Mexico under Title 42 are in grave danger: our clients continually report extortion, kidnapping, threats of violence, injury, and illness while in Mexico.
In response to these significant challenges, the Florence Project’s Border Action Team is currently maintaining a seven day a week presence on the ground in Nogales, Sonora, with at least two people present each day to ensure that people who are in MPP, expelled under Title 42, or newly arriving to the border have access to high-quality legal services. We can only do this work with your support. Thank you for making this work possible.
Our Development Team would be happy to speak with you!