Immigrants are denied the right to a public defender.  Approximately nine out of every ten immigrants in Eloy and Florence cannot afford an attorney and are therefore forced to represent themselves alone in court. For the thousands of men and women locked up in isolated detention centers in Arizona, access to justice has never been more important. The Florence Project is the only lifeline they have to legal information and assistance.

Legal Orientation Program (LOP)

Empowerment and autonomy are the foundations of the Florence Project self-representation model of serving detained immigrants. The Florence Project created the blueprint for the Legal Orientation Program (LOP), which was later replicated by sister organizations across the country and supported by the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR).

Our services include:

  • Legal orientation to all detained men and women to empower them as they navigate the immigration system
  • Weekly group presentations to educate individuals regarding their rights, court procedures, and immigration law
  • Individual legal consultations for unrepresented men and women
  • Interactive group workshops to guide people who qualify for certain forms of legal relief in fighting their cases

Pro Bono Representation

The Florence Project also supports certain clients by placing their cases with pro bono volunteer attorneys who receive extensive mentorship from Florence Project staff.

Direct Representation

Florence Project staff attorneys provide direct representation on a limited basis to detained men and women on all levels of immigration proceedings. We know that in a system which denies immigrants access to public defenders, having an attorney makes all the difference in the outcomes of our clients’ cases. We are proud to have increased our representation over the years for detained immigrants.

  • Staff attorneys represent anyone who a judge finds incompetent to represent themselves as a result of serious mental health conditions or disability
  • The Florence Project asylum attorney represents individuals fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries
  • Our innovative partnership with the Kino Border Initiative allows for our KBI Legal Fellow to provide legal orientation in Nogales, Sonora and represent asylum seekers who are later detained in Eloy or Florence
  • Our new partnership with the Phoenix Legal Action Network increases representation for individuals released from detention who are docketed at the Phoenix Immigration Court

“[The Florence Project Staff] explained the legal process and let people know the consequences of any decisions they made as they went before the court. I remember thinking how our justice system was not made for such a magnitude of bulk processing. I remember thinking how the detainees’ faces changed from fear to hope as they listened to the Florence staff.”

Kevin Ruegg, Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education