It comes as a surprise to many to learn that, in the United States, an immigrant detainee facing deportation who cannot afford to hire an attorney is not appointed one. Without the assistance of pro bono counsel, many immigrants – some of them asylum seekers and victims of violent crimes – are denied the opportunity to identify legal recourse or present their cases to the courts.
To learn how pro bono lawyers can help immigrant detainees gain access to justice, we spoke to Maria Odom, executive director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC). Maria gave us some interesting insight on the legal needs of immigrants and various challenges they face – a big one being that they are not entitled to legal representation in immigration court. She also spoke to us about what CLINIC does to match immigrants with pro bono attorneys and how the organization supports those attorneys with resources and professional development.