In March 2017, Jones Day established a full-time presence near Laredo, Texas, aiming to provide representation to women with claims for immigration relief in the Laredo detention facility. The firm selected Laredo as the site for this innovative project because the detention facility houses a substantial population of women with claims for immigration relief arising from the gender- or gang-related persecution they faced in their countries of origin. Prior to Jones Day’s presence in Laredo, these detainees had no access to free legal services.
Jones Day’s presence in Laredo has radically expanded the access of detainees to legal assistance. The firm’s attorneys offer "Know Your Rights" presentations to detained women and then meet with as many of the women who request an interview as possible to screen their cases for full representation. To date, Jones Day has engaged over 200 clients out of Laredo, assisting them with their legal needs inside the detention facility, including by representing them at Master Calendar and bond hearings, and—for those women who are not eligible for release—by handling the expedited trials to adjudicate their claims for immigration relief. To the extent that Jones Day’s clients are released, the firm’s representation continues in the jurisdiction to which they relocate. Jones Day attorneys have obtained the release of over 130 clients pending trial.
Nearly 500 attorneys from every Jones Day office in the United States have supported the firm’s efforts in Laredo. In total, these attorneys have dedicated over 40,000 hours to the Laredo initiative. Their work, in the words of one client fleeing domestic abuse in El Salvador, has "opened doors of freedom for those of us who could not afford attorneys."
For more information on Jones Day’s contributions, please, see Law 360’s article, "In Remote Immigrant Detention Centers, It’s Pro Bono Or Bust"
Client Testimonials Testimonial 1: "ID"
I came [to the United States] for humanitarian relief because I was suffering persecution, specifically political persecution, in Venezuela. I was threatened with physical harm to myself and my family because of my political beliefs.
It was very traumatic being detained at the border. I was in shock and worried because I didn’t know what was coming next or the process for asylum. When I was in the [detention] facility most of the women would pray every night, including myself, for help.
It’s very hard to access lawyers. Especially if you don’t have economic means, it’s almost impossible. I was suffering health issues because of my stress so one day I went to the infirmary at Laredo where I met a Cuban woman [who was also detained]. She was represented by Jones Day and she told me about the lawyers at Jones Day and about their project. She told me she would reach out to Jones Day to try and get me an appointment to hear my case. This was on a Wednesday. By Friday, I had my first appointment with Jones Day. The next Wednesday, Jones Day met with me and told me that they would represent me. I was absolutely overjoyed that I would not be alone in this process, and would have lawyers help me through the process and have a chance of getting asylum.
The help that Jones Day provides in Laredo is something that cannot be put into words. I tell people that I hope the women going through the process are lucky enough to get a Jones Day team. They are very dedicated to us, and they treat our cases like a normal case. I don’t think Jones Day fully understands the joy they are providing to women like me.
Testimonial 2: "SB"
Life in the [Laredo] detention center was not easy. We had no idea what was going on with our cases and even less of an idea of what our rights were. It was not until the lawyers from Jones Day arrived that they opened my eyes to the possibility that I had a viable case.
I found out about the [Laredo Project] because I worked in the janitorial services [at the Laredo detention center] and was mopping the floor when I met a lawyer. I heard from another detainee there were free lawyers in the facility. I asked [the lawyer] if she was one of the free lawyers, and she said she was and she asked for my A number, and that same afternoon the Jones Day team called me for a screening interview. When they told me they could help me I knew that God had sent them to me; I was relieved.
When the Jones Day lawyers took my case, they mobilized a tremendous effort. Jones Day moved heaven and earth to get crucial evidence in my case. They investigated my abuser and found proof of my physical abuse. They researched the current situation in El Salvador and they were able to demonstrate [the situation in El Salvador] to the judge. As a result, the judge was able to understand what waited for me if I was forced to return back to El Salvador. The team from Jones Day did what I initially thought was impossible, and thanks to their efforts I was released from the detention center.
I certainly would have been deported without the lawyers from Jones Day. My family and fiancé did not have enough money to pay for an attorney to represent me. I highly recommend Jones Day because they opened the doors of freedom for those of us who could not afford attorneys. They restored hope to what we feared were hopeless cases.