Providing crucial legal assistance to children and families fleeing endemic violence in Central America and Mexico.   

 
 Volunteer Rachel Kingrey of Dallas helps a juvenile fill out an application during an asylum workshop at Catholic Charities in Dallas. (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News Photographer)

Volunteer Rachel Kingrey of Dallas helps a juvenile fill out an application during an asylum workshop at Catholic Charities in Dallas. (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News Photographer)

 

The History

In 2014, frightened children and families began arriving in Dallas in the hundreds, seeking refuge from the violence that grips El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. In rapid response, a team of volunteers was assembled to assist them in applying for asylum - as is their right under the 1951 Refugee Convention and the Immigration and Nationality Act.

 

“The answer came exactly on my birthday. I felt really good. I want to be an attorney. I see there are so many good people and it makes me want to help them like I was helped. ”

— 14-year old salvadorian asylum recipient  

 
 Clinic leader and immigration lawyer Paul Zoltan (left) listens to questions from lawyer Brett Foster while helping a minor with immigration and asylum documents. (Ricky Moon/Dallas Morning News Special Contributor)

Clinic leader and immigration lawyer Paul Zoltan (left) listens to questions from lawyer Brett Foster while helping a minor with immigration and asylum documents. (Ricky Moon/Dallas Morning News Special Contributor)

 

What We Do

The Refugee Support Network provides each participating child or family with critical support in their request for asylum:

  • An orientation regarding their rights and responsibilities in removal proceedings;
  • A six-hour clinic to prepare an asylum application for each family member;
  • Painstaking technical review for each application;
  • An indexed and page-numbered packet of documentary evidence (reports and articles) corroborating their story; 
  • Translations of important documents such as birth certificates and police reports; 
  • A second two-hour clinic (“packet pick-up”) to review any revisions to the asylum application and to have the application read to the applicant in Spanish;
  • Sufficient copies of all applications and supporting evidence to satisfy the requirements of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (immigration courts); and
  • Assistance with any appeal, if needed.
 
 A young child passes the time as lawyers and interpreters help his mother with immigration and asylum documents, during the free legal clinic at Catholic Charities of Dallas. Nearly 100 women and children have passed through the clinic since it began eight months ago. (Ricky Moon/The Dallas Morning News Special Contributor)

A young child passes the time as lawyers and interpreters help his mother with immigration and asylum documents, during the free legal clinic at Catholic Charities of Dallas. Nearly 100 women and children have passed through the clinic since it began eight months ago. (Ricky Moon/The Dallas Morning News Special Contributor)

 

Get Involved

To assist in the preparation of asylum applications, each volunteer must be

a) An attorney,

b) Bilingual Spanish/English, or

c) A talented writer.

Prospective volunteers who lack these skills may still find a role in research, documentation, administration, or in special projects. All are encouraged to attend a training; there's no commitment required!