CLINIC attorneys work with the Remote Bond Project to reunite a mother with her son

“Luisa” came to the United States last May from Honduras to escape gang violence. The Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, separated her from her six-year-old son, “Antonio,” as part of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy. DHS then took Luisa to a detention center in Washington, while Antonio was taken to a children’s facility and later released to family in Florida. The Remote Bond Project, a collaboration between CLINIC, the American Immigration Council’s Immigration Justice Campaign, and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (and borne out of CLINIC and the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project’s Remote Motions to Rescind and Reopen Project), secured pro bono counsel to represent Luisa in her request to the immigration judge to release her on bond. Rachel Naggar, a staff attorney on CLINIC's Defending Vulnerable Populations team, served as mentor to the pro bono attorneys.

The immigration judge initially denied the bond request, stating that Luisa was a flight risk. However, the Remote Bond Project appealed that decision and—in a rare reversal—the Board of Immigration Appeals, or BIA, found that Luisa had a very strong incentive to appear in court. The judge was ordered to set an appropriate amount of bond. You can read the December 26, 2018 unpublished BIA decision here, courtesy of the Immigrant & Refugee Appellate Center, LLC. The Remote Bond Project continued to represent Luisa in her new bond hearing before the immigration judge, after which she was finally released and reunited with Antonio and other family members.

Luisa is the most recent individual freed with the help of the Remote Bond Project, which recruits pro bono attorneys from across the country to represent detainees in their bond hearings. The attorneys come from a variety of practice areas, with little to no knowledge of immigration law. CLINIC Defending Vulnerable Populations attorneys, Rachel Naggar and Ann Garcia, have had the pleasure of mentoring the pro bono attorneys through every step of the process from intake through the final court hearing. As CLINIC’s role in the Remote Bond Project concludes at the end of this month, CLINIC would like to thank our partners in this important collaboration, the pro bono attorneys, and, most of all, the clients who should not have to fight for freedom but show remarkable bravery in so doing.