Law firms across U.S. form coalition to help workers arrested in ICE poultry raids in Mississippi

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Eric J. Shelton/Mississippi Today, Report For America

Attorney Benjamin D. Thornton gives legal advice to Immigrants and their family members at Alpha and Omega Church of Deliverance in Forest, Miss., Saturday, August 10, 2019.

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Law firms across the country are pooling resources to provide large-scale pro bono representation for immigrants detained in the early August poultry raids in Mississippi. Nearly 100 detainees arrested in the raids have requested pro bono services for bond applications and hearings, according to a Thursday news release from the organizing group.

“The people we’re trying to help have been taken from their families and are suffering in isolated detention centers. They desperately need legal counsel,” said Traci Feit Love, executive director of Lawyers for Good Government Foundation.

It’s estimated that several hundred workers remain in detention, the release said. The effort, called Project Corazon, is a partnership between nearly 50 top law firms, mobilizing thousands of lawyers.

The coalition includes major law firms such as Kirkland & Ellis, Kilpatrick Townsend, and Wilkie Farr and Gallagher. The Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc. (CLINIC), the largest nationwide network of nonprofit immigration programs, will work closely with the lawyers, providing training mentoring and supervision.

“Immigration is one of the most complicated areas of U.S. law,” said Michelle Mendez, director of CLINIC’s Defending Vulnerable Populations program. “CLINIC is heartened to see lawyers volunteering their time. We are ready to train and mentor them to help ensure pro bono partners are equipped to navigate the law’s complexities.”

“Lawyers at big firms may spend most of their days working on major corporate matters, but they often still maintain a real interest in helping the most vulnerable members of our communities to have access to the due process to which they are entitled by law,” said Jacqueline Haberfeld, New York Pro Bono Counsel, Kirkland & Ellis LLP.

Mississippi Today is continuing to cover the aftermath of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids at poultry plants in early August. Click here for more coverage.