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Volunteer in NYC on the "Adults with Children" docket

New York Immigration Court - Adults with Children (“AWC”) Docket

Prepared by: Human Rights First

Date: January 28, 2016

About the project

At the New York Immigration Court there is a project to screen unrepresented adults with children in removal proceedings for asylum and other eligibility for immigration relief, in an effort to provide them with pro bono legal representation. Most of the immigrants who are screened appear before judges who handle the Adults with Children (“AWC”) dockets several times a month. On the day of the immigrants’ master calendar hearings at the Court, they are screened in the Court’s Pro Bono Room by lawyers and other local non-profit representatives who are trained to conduct issue-spotting and, in many cases, provide know-your-rights information to the immigrants. Screeners also provide referrals to appropriate organizations that might be able to represent the immigrants pro bono. Many of these organizations rely on volunteers to assist on screening days to ensure that unrepresented families know their rights and obligations while in proceedings, and to maximize the number of families who might find quality legal representation.


Immigration Court Volunteer Opportunities

As set forth in more detail below, volunteers can greet parents and children at the New York Immigration Court and participate in one or more of the following ways, depending on interest and skill set:

1) escort immigrants to their assigned courtroom (“Greeters”)
2) after their hearings, escort them from the courtroom to the Pro Bono Room for screening (“Runners”)
3) monitor hearings in the courtroom for a particular docket (“Courtroom Monitors”)
4) assist families with filling out screening forms while they wait to speak to an attorney or other legal service provider representative, and
5) help conduct screenings of unrepresented individuals (“Legal Screeners”).


Greeters and Runners:
Volunteers will help escort immigrants to their assigned courtroom and also take them from the courtroom after their hearing is complete, to the Pro Bono Room, so that they can be screened. For those who speak some Spanish (fluency not required), there are also opportunities to help individuals fill out their questionnaires while waiting to speak to an attorney or other legal service provider representatives.

Preferred skillset: Non-lawyers and law students are welcome. Some Spanish is helpful, but fluency is not required.


Courtroom Monitors:

Description: Monitor master calendar hearings and track the number of represented and unrepresented families that appear before the Judge, whether and how many families were ordered removed in absentia, or other events of note in court.  Must be willing to undergo a one-hour advance training before volunteering in this role. Draft summaries for circulation to legal services organizations.

Preferred skillset: Non-lawyers and law students are welcome. Prior knowledge of immigration proceedings (or an eagerness to learn) is helpful but not required.  Must be willing to interact with parents and young children, and also to do a half-hour in-person training before volunteering in this role.


Legal Screeners:

Description: Interview families and screen their cases for asylum or other forms of immigration relief.  Provide appropriate referrals and basic know-your-rights information.

Preferred skillset: Must be comfortable working with victims of trauma.  Legal background and training is helpful (particularly with respect to immigration laws, including asylum, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (“SIJS”) and family-based petitions) but is not required. Fluency in Spanish is required. Willingness to interact with parents and young children required. Willingness to accept a case for pro bono representation – with mentorship by a practiced attorney – is a plus but is not required.


How to volunteer

Individuals can volunteer under the supervision of nonprofit legal service providers who have a need on particular screening days. If you would like to volunteer, please contact Jacqueline Rojas at