Paralegal II – Dilley

      In 2014, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began subjecting mothers and their children who seek asylum in the United States to mandatory detention in private prisons. Rather than providing immediate refuge and protection, the government ships families who flee unspeakable violence to jails far from metropolitan areas in Dilley, Texas and Karnes City.
     In response to the government’s inhumane treatment of asylum-seekers, four non-profit organizations, collectively known as the CARA Pro Bono Project (CARA), joined forces to assure detained families have access to pro bono legal services and to end the practice of family detention. CARA’s work ignited a national movement of advocates and allies committed to standing alongside detained families to defend their rights to due process and international protection as refugees.
     Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc. (TRLA) is one such ally. TRLA seeks to ensure all families detained in violation of international, federal, and state law within our services receive the support they desperately need to protect their personal safety and the safety of their children. To this end, TRLA is hiring full-time staff to guarantee uninterrupted access to free legal services for the growing number of women and children who are detained in Dilley, Texas at the South Texas Family Detention Center (STFDC).
     STFDC is the nation’s largest private prison for immigrant mothers and their children. It is located 70 miles southwest of San Antonio and currently houses over 2,000 women and children, including children who are only one year old. CARA’s Pro Bono Project in Dilley (the Dilley Pro Bono Project) has maintained a small team of on-site lawyers and paralegals who facilitate CARA’s non-traditional model of legal services with the goal of providing every woman and child meaningful legal representation.
     The Dilley Pro Bono Project recruits teams of volunteers nationally who commit to arriving in Dilley on a Sunday, attending a mandatory orientation, and providing legal services to families throughout the week. After an exhilarating and exhausting week, the team leaves the following Saturday, and a new team arrives to take over their caseload and carry the work forward. CARA’s radical model of providing services to refugees in the United States has received national attention and support. You can learn more about CARA’s incredible work at
     TRLA is partnering with the Dilley Pro Bono Project to provide services at STFDC. TRLA seeks a paralegal for its Family Detention Project who will support TRLA’s efforts to provide civil legal services to detained women and children in partnership with the Dilley Pro Bono Project. The position will initially be based in Dilley, Texas.
     All candidates should possess a sense of urgency to end family detention and protect asylum-seekers from deportation, empathy, and the ability to stay calm and collected in the midst of crisis. The paralegal’s work with detained families inside STFDC will include, but not be limited to, the following duties:
  • Complete intakes with new clients;
  • Develop specialized knowledge of asylum law and expedited removal;
  • Prepare individuals for an interview with a USCIS Asylum Officer;
  • Prepare individuals who seek Immigration Judge review of a negative decision by an Asylum Officer;
  • Support clients who request release on bond after a positive credible or reasonable fear determination;
  • Draft declarations;
  • Gather evidence, including country conditions, that supports an individual’s eligibility for asylum;
  • Prepare filings for court;
  • Communicate with stakeholders, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services;
  • Communicate with clients and their loved ones;
  • Collaborate with current community partners and form new partnerships;
  • Create legal educational materials;
  • Support and collaborate with local and national volunteers;
  • Maintain accurate and complete client files and administrative records;
  • Prepare administrative reports;
  • Provide translation and interpretation; and
  • Provide legal information and referrals.
Required Qualifications:
  • Fluency in English and Spanish
  • College degree
  • Excellent oral and writing skills
  • Ability to work independently and as a part of a team
  • Flexibility to work evenings and weekends and accommodate an irregular work schedule
  • A proven commitment to supporting vulnerable immigrant populations
  • Dedication to and experience in serving low-income populations
  • Experience working with survivors of trauma
  • Experience coordinating or participating in volunteer-based projects
How to Apply and Related Timelines:
For consideration, applicants should email a cover letter, resume, and three references with “Paralegal Position – Family Detention Project” in the subject line, to the following individuals:
To: Monica Bustamante, Recruitment Manager, at
“cc”: Shalyn Fluharty, Director – Family Detention Project, at
The consideration of candidates is ongoing and will continue until the position is filled. The position is available immediately, although the start date is somewhat negotiable.