EJA and The Dilley Pro-Bono Project Announce a Two-Year $130,000 Post-Graduate Fellowship

In News by Emma Ruben

Equal Justice America and The Dilley Pro-Bono Project have announced the creation of a two-year, $130,000 fellowship for a graduating or recently graduated Columbia Law Student. The Dilley Pro-Bono Project provides free legal services to asylum-seeking mothers and their children who are being detained in the South Texas Family Residential Center (STFRC), the largest detention center in the country.

Shaylyn Fluharty, the Managing Attorney for the Dilley Pro-Bono Project, explains that over the last two years with only two-full time attorneys on staff at a given time, the project has provided limited scope representation to over 25,000 families, and trained over 1,000 volunteers to help fill the need for free legal services at the detention center. Fluharty goes on to explain that despite understaffing, “clients have obtained a 99.7 percent grant rate at the conclusion of their credible or reasonable interview with the asylum office,” pointing to the reality that “families fleeing Central America are bona fide ‘refugees.’”

These Credible Fear interviews are critical, as Robert W Doggett, Executive Director of Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid which oversees the Dilley Pro Bono Project, points out since the families detained at the STFRC were apprehended within 100 miles of the border and face imminent deportation if they don’t make it past the interview. “By statute, asylum-seekers in expedited removal proceedings have very limited opportunities to appeal negative determinations,” explains Doggett, so the Dilley Pro Bono Project “engages in additional advocacy before the immigration court to challenge cases in which an asylum officer made a negative credible fear determination.”
“My experience in Dilley has made one thing clear: placement of an Equal Justice America Fellow in Dilley, now more than ever, is critical to ensure access to justice for asylum-seeking families detained in South Texas Family Residential Center.”Shaylyn Fluharty, Managing Attorney for the Dilley Pro-Bono Project
Under TRLA’s leadership and oversight, less than 1% of families have been deported since 2014. However, Attorney General Sessions’ narrowing of asylum eligibility for those fleeing domestic or gang-based violence has “completely overwhelmed TRLA’s ability to continue to provide the needed high-quality, expert limited-scope and full representation” necessary to defend clients who are currently facing indefinite detention.

According to Fluharty, “an EJA Fellow will give us additional capacity within our full-time, on-the-ground team to better support weekly volunteers, directly serve the most vulnerable clients, and continue providing rapid-response robust legal services in an ever-changing unpredictable climate.” She explains, “my experience in Dilley has made one thing clear: placement of an Equal Justice America Fellow in Dilley, now more than ever before, is critical to ensure access to justice for asylum-seeking families detained at the South Texas Family Residential Center.”

Learn more about how to apply for the EJA Dilley-Pro Bono Project Fellowship here . Donate to the fund for the EJA Dilley Pro Bono Project Fellowship here.


Support EJA Fellows

Share this Post