Karnes Pro-Bono Project


As immigrants continue to flee for their lives to the United States, many individuals are asking how they can help. In response, RAICES has organized the Karnes Pro-Bono Project, a program designed to provide free legal services to families detained in Karnes County Residential Center.

The immigrants detained are forced to undergo an interview formally know as the Credible Fear Interview (CFI) or Reasonable Fear Interview (RFI) to determine eligibility of release while seeking asylum – or other forms of relief. Negative results from the CFI or RFI can can lead to deportation. Deported migrants are put at a heightened risk of violence and danger.

The Karnes Pro-Bono Project assigns volunteers directly inside Karnes County Residential Center. While the greatest volunteer demand is for Spanish speaking attorneys that specialize in asylum law, we accept and train volunteers from many professional backgrounds, such as public servants or graduate students. With the help of our comprehensive training package, you too, can help immigrants detained. Additionally, mental health professionals, specifically licensed clinical social workers and psychologists are needed to perform psychological evaluations.

Mother holding child
Father holding child

As of April 2019, ICE detains single adult women at Karnes County Residential Center. There are no minor children. You will have our team as a support system, but due to the high volume of clients we try to help, supervision is at a minimum. The environment at the detention center is unpredictable and fast paced. Adaptability and patience are required from everyone. Each session with a client ranges between 15 minutes to 2 hours. The work is fast paced because it is time sensitive. Volunteers must balance quantity and quality effectively. The detained setting inherently creates barriers to access to counsel. At times, our team must “hurry up and wait” as we rely on the detention center staff to bring in families for urgent meetings.

All volunteers must be able to commit to volunteering from Monday to Thursday with an expected schedule of 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM CST; and pay their own expenses. Car-pooling with RAICES staff from San Antonio, Texas to Karnes County Residential Center is available at no cost.

If you wish to serve the Karnes Pro-Bono Project, please sign-up below.

“These experiences are so incredibly formative for me, getting the opportunity to help these families and work alongside such compassionate and intelligent people like yourselves. I am hopeful I contributed some good, but I know for certain this work centers me, makes me take stock of my life and practice, and re-prioritizes me to focus on making this world better however possible.”

                                                                       – Chris Meuse, Volunteer


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