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Volunteer in San Francisco

Volunteer in San Francisco

There are two opportunities to volunteer with children and families at the San Francisco Immigration Court. The Non-Surge Juvenile Docket is staffed by Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto (CLSEPA). The Surge Docket, which includes dockets for both unaccompanied children and adults with children, is staffed by the San Francisco Bar Association. Descriptions and contact information are below.

Prepared by: Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto (CLSEPA) and The Bar Association of San Francisco

Date: June 16, 2015

Juvenile Docket (Non-Surge)


About the Juvenile Docket

Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto (CLSEPA) staffs the non-surge juvenile docket for unrepresented, released children appearing at the San Francisco Immigration Court. The docket consists of one hearing every other week on Wednesday afternoons before Judge Alison Daw. The docket mainly includes children who were put in removal proceedings prior to the “surge” beginning in May 2014. Many of the children on the docket are unaccompanied alien children (UACs), though not necessarily all have been deemed to be UACs by the government.

CLSEPA recruits and trains volunteer attorneys and law students to staff the juvenile docket each week. Volunteer attorneys and law students conduct full intakes to screen children for immigration relief, and volunteer attorneys make appearances before the Immigration Judge to request continuances to find counsel. Volunteer Attorneys serve as “Friend of the Court.” There is a CLSEPA Supervising Attorney present at each docket to assist volunteers as needed. CLSEPA is also assisted by the Immigration Center for Women and Children, who provide Know Your Rights presentations and information to children and their families. With the child’s consent, CLSEPA uses the information gathered in the intake to refer the child’s case to free legal service providers and pro bono attorneys in the Bay Area. While not all cases can necessarily be placed, the goal of the project is full representation for as many children on the juvenile docket as possible.


How to Volunteer

Participation in the juvenile docket is open to experienced immigration attorneys as well as attorneys new to immigration law. For those new to immigration law, attendance at a training in person or via webinar is required.

Law students interested in participating in the juvenile docket usually do so under the supervision of a clinical instructor through an immigration-related clinic at their law school.

To inquire about volunteering at the juvenile docket, contact Joyce Song at

Attorneys interested in full scope representation of minors on the juvenile docket on a pro bono basis may contact Joyce Song at


Unaccompanied Minors and Adults with Children (Surge Docket)

Every unaccompanied child and family in removal proceedings in San Francisco Immigration Court has access to free, same-day assistance by an Attorney of the Day at their master calendar hearing. The Bar Association of San Francisco schedules volunteer Attorneys of the Day (AOD) to assist respondents before the immigration judge, deliver Know Your Rights presentations, screen respondents for potential immigration relief, give basic legal advice and information, and refer cases to nonprofits for full-scope representation. Participants in the Attorney of the Day program include members of the private bar as well as nonprofit attorneys from organizations including El Centro Legal de la Raza, Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto (CLSEPA), and members of the San Francisco Immigrant Legal Defense Collaborative (SFILDC), described below.

The SFILDC is a group of 13 nonprofit and community-based organizations that together provide full-scope deportation defense for children and families in expedited removal proceedings who are residents of San Francisco County. The SFILDC consists of ten legal service providers who provide direct representation and three legal organizations who offer technical assistance, administrative and operations support, legal mentorship and strategy oversight. The direct service providers are Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach (APILO), Central American Resource Center (CARECEN), Dolores Street Community Services, Immigration Center for Women & Children (ICWC), La Raza Centro Legal, La Raza Community Resource Center, The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, Legal Services for Children, Pangea Legal Services, and the University of San Francisco Deportation Defense Clinic. The three other legal partners are The Bar Association of San Francisco, the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies (CGRS) at UC Hastings School of Law, and the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC).

SFILDC attorneys represent surge docket respondents pro bono, both unaccompanied children and adults with children (on the UC and AWC dockets, respectively). Currently the SFILDC can only represent respondents who are San Francisco residents.


Volunteers are needed for the following

1) Full-scope pro bono representation of surge docket respondents: If you are interested in taking on a surge immigration case on a pro bono basis, contact Carlos Pinzon-Hamilton at The SFILDC can provide training and mentorship for attorneys without deportation defense expertise.

2) Participation in the Attorney of the Day (AOD) Panel for the surge dockets: If you are an immigration attorney and would like to join the AOD panel, please review the instructions and fill out an application at There is a supplemental application with shadowing and observation requirements for newer attorneys who do not initially meet program requirements.