ABA_Award_Winners_2015There are hundreds of individuals who have come together on the ground to work on family detention – in Artesia, in Karnes, in Dilley, and in Berks. There are people from every far-flung corner of our nation who have worked remotely on case after case, brought attention to this tragic and inhumane incarceration, and refused to give up.

This past weekend, it was a pleasure to see some well-deserved accolades bestowed upon the law firm of Jones Day for their remarkable pro bono work and leadership when the humanitarian crisis sent tens of thousands of children and mothers fleeing for safety to seek asylum in the United States. One of five 2015 Pro Bono Publico Award Recipients, Jones Day was honored by the American Bar Association for their steadfast commitment to helping those who need it most. A video produced about their pro bono efforts includes AILA’s own Susan Timmons describing how Jones Day threw itself into the new morass of legal access for detained families and unaccompanied children, helping countless incredibly vulnerable immigrants.

The ABA was not alone in recognizing the efforts of Artesia and CARA volunteers; the AILA Artesia Pro Bono Project won the 2014 Super Lawyers Pro Bono award, as well as the 2015 Power of A Gold Award from the American Society of Association Executives.

I’m sure there are many other awards, honors, and recognitions that individual volunteers, law firms, or groups have received. And I have absolutely no doubt that volunteers with the CARA project will be up for similar awards at the end of 2015. The reason for that, though, is heartbreaking.AILA_at_Pro_Bono_Awards_Pic

The awards will keep coming because you will keep volunteering because the federal government has kept on with their policies that harm children and their mothers. They continue to traumatize, to frighten, to confuse and intimidate mothers and children who are here to seek one thing: safety.

And while I’m so proud of all of those who have volunteered, I wish that none of you had to. But, that’s a pipe dream, a futile wish, for now anyway. After Flores, who knows, but we will keep needing help, we’ll need your chapter groups and your law students, we’ll need your paralegals and translators, because we refuse to stop.

Please come join us. I can’t promise you a trophy, but I can promise you a life-changing experience – for you, and the vulnerable families you’ll help.

Written by Reid Trautz, Director, AILA Practice and Professionalism Center


If you are an AILA member, law student, paralegal, or translator, who wants to volunteer at a family detention center, please go to the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project page or feel free to contact Maheen Taqui at mtaqui@aila.org – we could really use your help.

To watch videos of the volunteers sharing their experiences, go to this playlist on AILA National’s YouTube page. To see all the blog posts about this issue select Family Detention as the category on the right side of this page.