“I’ve never experienced anything so powerful. This is why I became a lawyer.” – CARA Volunteer Attorney
This is a volunteer-built and volunteer-managed site. For the official word on the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project, visit the individual sites linked on the Who page. This site was built to make it easy for the volunteer community to get involved with the CARA Pro Bono Project.
CARA operates a non-traditional pro bono model of legal services that directly represents the children and women incarcerated at the Dilley detention center. The inhumane and illegal incarceration of children and mothers must be solved by everyone anywhere in the United States. Volunteer recruitment is active and CARA needs volunteers now.
How does CARA work?
CARA operates an on-the-ground team that advocates for the children and women. New volunteer teams arrive in Dilley each Sunday for orientation and work every day, usually 15-18 hours a day, through Friday. At the end of the week, the new team arrives to take over and carry the work forward until all the children and women are released and the mass incarceration system ends.
All new volunteers are required to attend a pre-arrival web-based orientation. This orientation takes place the week before you arrive on-the-ground. It covers critical rules, goals, and systems.
All new volunteers are required to attend an on-the-ground orientation. This orientation takes place every Sunday in Dilley. It covers the goals for the week, case assignments, task assignments, and everything else a volunteer needs to know.
All volunteers must be self-funded. CARA provides no funding or financial assistance. CARA’s partner organizations and allies may provide individual stipends or assistance. You can donate to a CARA partner organization or ally
What do CARA volunteers do?
CARA volunteers appear in court, represent at credible fear interviews and bond proceedings, complete client intakes and client preparation; gather research and draft motions and declarations to support claims, and provide protection to the children and women from harsh detention conditions. Advocates collect data and intelligence on DHS, ICE, and CBP detention practices with an eye towards shutting the facility down.
CARA provides orientation, training, and day to day guidance. Volunteers are responsible for all their costs. Independent fundraising is encouraged.
Who should volunteer?
The greatest need is for attorneys, law students and paralegals with interest and experience in asylum work. Spanish speakers are preferred. If you don’t speak Spanish, you should consider collaborating with an interpreter to join you. Non-immigration attorneys who speak Spanish are actively being recruited. Other individuals are needed on the ground, too. Social workers, psychologists, forensic anthropologists and individuals with strong research skills are needed. Compassion, endurance, resilience, flexibility, and commitment to ending incarceration of children are required for every volunteer.
How do I volunteer?
CARA organizes on-the-ground teams by matching skill sets with need. The on-the-ground team is at optimal efficiency with 15 volunteers. Volunteers should complete the volunteer application. YOU SHOULD NOT MAKE TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS until your application has been accepted. The volunteer coordinator matches applicants with project needs and may suggest a particular placement.
Volunteers are currently needed to assist with providing legal support for children and mothers detained at the Karnes Family Detention Center. The Center, an hour south east of San Antonio, currently has bed space for up to 800 children and mothers, all families who have fled extreme violence in Central America. As a volunteer you would work as part of the Karnes Pro Bono Project, providing legal support for families detained at the Center.
Ideal volunteers for this work are attorneys, law students or paralegals with an understanding of asylum law in the United States. While experience is preferred, it is not a requirement as training will be provided to all volunteers before they enter the Center. In order to help as part of this work it is required that you speak Spanish fluently, or that you are able to secure your own interpreter to join you at the Center.
Since the start of family detention in August of 2014 over 300 volunteers from around the country have helped provide legal services to over to over 3,000 asylum seekers. We welcome volunteers from around the country and are able to assist in finding free homestays in San Antonio. This is an opportunity that will stay with you for life, and we encourage you to join us in defending these vulnerable families.