On November 2, 2009 the City Bar Justice Center (CBJC) released a report, co-authored by Fragomen Fellow Kiera LoBreglio and CBJC Executive Director Lynn M. Kelly, bringing valuable visibility to the need for government-funded appointed counsel for indigent immigration detainees at the Varick Federal Detention Facility in Manhattan. Based on interviews conducted with 158 detainees over the course of six months, the report, entitled “NYC Know Your Rights Project, An Innovative Pro Bono Response to the Lack of Counsel for Indigent Immigrant Detainees
,” revealed a number of previously un-published findings including the fact that almost 40% of detainees had meritorious reason for relief from removal and that 90% of those that were granted bond remained in detention due to high bond amounts. While the Know Your Rights project and its volunteers provide much needed pro bono counsel to a handful of detainees each week, the report ultimately recommends that there be government-funded appointed counsel for all detained immigrants who cannot afford private counsel.
The report gained valuable publicity for the cause throughout the New York legal community and general public including an article
in the New York Times
following the reports release. About the NYC Know Your Rights Project
The NYC Know Your Rights Project is a collaborative effort between the City Bar Justice Center (CBJC), The Legal Aid Society, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), New York City Chapter, participating pro bono law firms and several law school clinics to provide immigration advice and legal assistance to those detained at the Varick Federal Detention Facility. Fragomen Involvement
An inaugural member of the Know your Rights Project, Fragomen has been an active participant in the project since its inception. The firm provides CBJC with a rotating one-year Fellow. This Fellow, currently associate attorney Kiera LoBreglio
, oversees the administration, scheduling and data collection for the weekly clinics at Varick. This includes the training and recruiting of new volunteers and oversight of the follow-up on all of the cases opened at each clinic. LoBreglio is also responsible for logistics of the weekly clinics, including detainee sign-up, collection of detainee data, analysis of the cases and follow-up. She also coordinates with volunteer lawyers in the weeks following their participation at the clinic in order to ensure that all cases are resolved and closed in a timely fashion. Fragomen has also assisted with issuing the CLE for the two pro bono trainings held to date.