Legal Representation for Family and Children


RAICES established the LEAF fund to ensure that children coming to this country can receive quality legal representation both in detention centers and once they are released. In 2018, our specially-trained team provided ongoing legal counsel to 400 children, and more than 4,500 children received training to help them understand their rights here in the United States.

The LEAF fund is a major source of support for the many RAICES programs benefiting unaccompanied children. Our children’s programs include:

  • “Know Your Rights” presentations and legal screenings for thousands of children
  • An advocate for children who have had their rights violated
  • Legal representation for children both in detention and post-release
  • Post-detention care, including ongoing access to counsel for children in their immigration cases
  • Assistance with other fees associated with immigration documentation, forms, and applications

Karnes Pro Bono Project

The Karnes Pro Bono Project was launched in 2014 by a group of attorneys committed to serving the legal needs of women and children in the newly opened Karnes family detention center (“Karnes”). The project has since come under the direction of RAICES, providing free legal services to people in ICE custody at Karnes. The families are typically forced to pass a credible or reasonable fear interview before they can be released to pursue asylum. The failure to meet these requirements for asylum can lead to deportation, which can mean a return to persecution and death.

RAICES provides support to detained families by preparing them for their screening interviews, representing them in hearings before an immigration judge if they fail their interview, and submitting requests for reconsideration to the Asylum Office if the immigration judge affirms the negative interview decision. When the need arises, RAICES has helped persons detained at Karnes with parole requests, bond motions, asylum applications, representation in final asylum hearings in immigration court, and in appeals to the Board of Immigration Appeals. Our work also includes public advocacy campaigns and regular involvement with litigation and policy advocacy.