I'm so grateful for the experience of volunteering with SIFI in Jena, La! The office environment, ethos and staff are so very kind, warm and open. (They even brought the volunteers treats!) The work was challenging and full-- yet not overwhelming, thanks to the support, supervision and wisdom of the full-time SIFI attorneys. During the week, I was able to observe court multiple times, meet with clients in LaSalle detention center and work on a bond motion from beginning to (almost) end. I learned as much-- or more-- in a week with SIFI as in a semester of law school. I am very grateful that SIFI now has a presence in Jena and also am grateful to have begun learning these skills there, which (unfortunately) are much needed in Louisiana and around the country, especially now.
— SIFI Volunteer Angela Davis, Executive Director of First Grace Community Alliance
Immigrants with legal counsel are more than 10 times as likely to succeed in their cases as detained immigrants without a lawyer. Yet, the great majority of immigrant detainees, especially in the Southeast, are not represented.
The Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative relies on volunteers to fulfill its mission of defending detained immigrants from deportation. Whether you are an attorney, a law student, an interpreter, or a doctor, your volunteer work can help SIFI challenge the deportation machine by providing the highest quality legal representation to the clients we serve.
Our volunteer program provides all volunteers with robust mentorship and training. Volunteer opportunities involve a range of time and travel commitments:
ON THE GROUND: Attorneys, interpreters, and law students with faculty supervision may spend a week on the ground at one of SIFI’s four immigrant detention centers, Stewart, Irwin, LaSalle and Folkston. On the ground volunteers may participate in immigration court hearings to seek our clients’ release from detention, conduct visits with current clients, and screen potential clients for representation.
MERITS REPRESENTATION: Attorneys may represent a detained immigrant pro bono in the merits phase of their removal case, by remotely preparing their defense for trial and appearing in immigration court to try their case at the individual hearing.
REMOTE VOLUNTEERS: Attorneys, law students, and translators may volunteer their services remotely. Attorneys and law students may draft documents to seek clients’ release from detention on bond or parole. Bilingual volunteers may translate documents and contact family members to obtain sworn statements and other documentation. Other volunteers provide necessary assistance coordinating and organizing these filings.
By volunteering with SIFI, you can make a meaningful impact on the lives of our clients. And in doing so, you too will be transformed.