March 08, 2001
March 13 Summit to Focus on Rights of Detained ImmigrantsEvery year the Immigration and Naturalization Service detains more than 4,600 children nationwide. As these children await permission to remain in this country, they are incarcerated by the INS in corrections facilities, where they must endure ongoing adversarial proceedings, in most cases without the benefit of an attorney or advocate who speaks their language.
On Tuesday, March 13, at 9 a.m. the Philadelphia Bar Foundation will convene a summit of funders, lawyers and community groups to address this critical problem. The summit will be held in the offices of the Philadelphia Bar Association, 1101 Market Street, in the 11th Floor Conference Center. The summit will be facilitated by representatives from the American Bar Association’s Emergency Immigration Pro Bono Development and Activization Project. Since its inception in 1990, the ABA’s project has distributed more than $788,000 in grants to over 70 state and local bar associations providing pro bono representation of immigrants, refugees and newcomers to America. Most recently, the ABA awarded one of eight $5,000 grants to the Berks County Bar Association and its partnering non-profit agency, the Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center for legal services to immigrant and refugee children. For its part, the Philadelphia Bar Foundation provides $500,000 annually to more than 30 Philadelphia-based organizations providing legal assistance to victims of abuse and discrimination.
Statistics show that 90 percent of those detainees fortunate enough to be represented by an attorney in immigration proceedings obtain permission to remain in this country and begin to build a new life.
The purpose of the summit is to focus public attention on the plight of these children, encourage local funders to support organizations providing legal assistance to these children, increase pro bono volunteers from the legal community and help these children secure their freedom and the right to build a new life in America.
The summit will attempt to maximize efforts and funding to provide the equal protection of the law to detained immigrants and refugees.