The Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), with its Haiti-based affiliate, the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), fights for human rights and justice in Haiti and for fair and just treatment of Haitian immigrants in the United States. After receiving an outpouring of support from legal professionals nationwide seeking to volunteer their services, IJDH on January 17 launched the Lawyers' Earthquake Response Network (LERN), which now has over 360 attorneys and law students responding to various post-earthquake needs, the largest number working on U.S. immigration issues.
Many wish to assist TPS applicants by volunteering their services. This tool, the Haitian Immigration Pro Bono Project, seeks to inform them of volunteer opportunities with free and low-cost TPS service providers and related advocacy needs. A searchable database of programs is available in the Haitian TPS Pro Bono Directory, which includes information on the organization, staff contacts and its TPS-related needs. We hope the Directory may help identify gaps in the provision of TPS services, facilitate pro bono provider collaboration, and perhaps help identify funding and support for additional programs.
We link to TPS background materials and a national and local training calendar and encourage service providers to submit information on trainings and clinics for pro bono attorneys and law student volunteers.
Eligible Haitians must file for TPS by July 20, 2010. Free and low-cost legal service providers may be hard-pressed to meet the expected volume of applicants as the deadline approaches. The TPS form is complex, interviewing Haitian applicants requires cultural sensitivity to insure getting accurate information, and trained volunteers can help in underserved areas or with legal research.
Also, as USCIS issues Requests for Evidence on selected TPS applications, practitioners are asked to report any apparently inappropriate RFEs to IJDH Immigration Advocacy Coordinator Steve Forester at firstname.lastname@example.org .
And volunteers are urged to join advocacy efforts to convince the Administration to promptly parole into the United States beneficiaries of immigrant visa petitions, so they may rejoin families and send remittances to relatives instead of languishing years longer in Haiti, and those needing urgent care unavailable there for medical, orthopedic, rehabilitation, and other traumas. Volunteers can ask their congresspersons to co-sponsor legislation, submit letters to the editor or op-eds, urge columnists and editorial writers to address these issues, and work with other volunteers towards these ends.
Look for related editorials and articles in our News section and, if you would like to get involved, please contact IJDH Immigration Advocacy Coordinator Steven Forester at email@example.com.