Immigration Justice Campaign Wins 9th ALBA/Puffin Activist Award

March 9, 2019
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Mothers and children who were separated at the border and subsequently placed in family detention pose alongside the Managing Attorney at the Justice Campaign’s partner site, the Dilley Pro Bono Project, following their release from detention. Photo IJC.

Mothers and children who were separated at the border and subsequently placed in family detention pose alongside the Managing Attorney at the Justice Campaign’s partner site, the Dilley Pro Bono Project, following their release from detention. Photo IJC.

Everyone deserves a fair day in court—yet 86% of detained immigrants in the United States are without an attorney. The Immigration Justice Campaign, winner of the 2019 ALBA/Puffin Award for Human Rights Activism, mobilizes more than 9,000 volunteers to make sure that arriving migrants and those with asylum claims are not subject to the government’s cruel deportation system that has no purpose but to criminalize them.

On May 5, ALBA and the Puffin Foundation will join in honoring and supporting the Immigration Justice Campaign (IJC) with the 2019 ALBA/Puffin Award for Human Rights Activism in a ceremony to be held at the Museum of the City of New York (tickets | press release | comunicado de prensa). This year’s prize recognizes IJC’s groundbreaking efforts to increase access to legal counsel for thousands of immigrants held in detention centers on the southern border of the United States.

“The Immigration Justice Campaign is deeply honored to receive the ALBA/Puffin Award,” said Karen Lucas, IJC Director. “Our 9,000 volunteer lawyers, interpreters, social workers, and advocates are dedicated to fighting together for a fair day in court for detained immigrants.” Although the campaign is a project of two large associations of US attorneys, its primary focus is on access to legal services.

Karen Lucas

Karen Lucas

Currently, Lucas said, “more than 85 percent of detained immigrants face court alone, without a lawyer, because our system does not guarantee representation. To address an access to justice challenge of this magnitude, we need to break the mold and do things differently. This funding will help us connect more detained immigrants to more volunteers and build innovative, transformative representation strategies in partnership with strong local legal service providers around the country.”

The Immigration Justice Campaign was founded in 2017 as a joint initiative by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the American Immigration Council. It has fought tirelessly against illegal and inhumane policies toward refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants, and has promoted ways for the broader legal community across the country to provide pro bono assistance for this critical work.

Facebook_Fundraiser_Photo_Website“With the crisis for refugees and immigrants at our southern border continuing unabated, we hope the prize will help focus on a true humanitarian crisis and the important human rights work of the attorneys of the Immigration Justice Campaign,” said Neal Rosenstein of the Puffin Foundation. “This year’s award acknowledges the urgent need to safeguard the human rights of immigrants and refugees worldwide,” said Kate Doyle, co-chair of ALBA’s Board of Governors. “Not only those affected by the policies of the current U.S. administration, but anyone targeted by the rising xenophobia around the globe.”

Working exclusively with volunteers, the Immigration Justice Campaign places people on the ground, at the border, inside the ICE detention centers and stands before judges in makeshift courtrooms, to ensure that arriving migrants and those with asylum claims are not subject to the government’s cruel deportation system that has no purpose but to criminalize them. Currently, there are more than 9,000 volunteers in network. . To date, 926 volunteers served 15,296 families detained in Texas through the IJC’s partner, the Dilley Pro Bono Project. Furthermore, 573 volunteers served 469 individuals facing deportation around the country, and 236 separated families had an attorney by their side.

Immigration Justice Campaign volunteers smile alongside Bernardo* and his daughter following their release from detention and reunification. Bernardo and his daughter were forcibly separated at the border by the government in the summer of 2018.

Immigration Justice Campaign volunteers smile alongside Bernardo* and his daughter following their release from detention and reunification. Bernardo and his daughter were forcibly separated at the border by the government in the summer of 2018.

“Not only can we help more detained individuals than ever before,” said Mekela Goehring, Executive Director at the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network, an IJC partner in Colorado, “but our volunteer lawyers have a way to make their voices heard in the national conversation through the Campaign’s critical communications support.”

“It is through our partnership with the Justice Campaign,” she added, “that we were able to help immigrants like Mr. Y and Mr. R, both of whom fled torture and beatings in Azerbaijan due to their involvement in an opposition political movement – and both of whom are now safe from life-threatening danger due to an amazing volunteer legal team!”

One of the largest monetary awards for human rights in the world, the ALBA/Puffin Award is a $100,000 cash prize granted annually by ALBA and the Puffin Foundation to honor the nearly 3,000 Americans who volunteered in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) to fight fascism under the banner of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Philanthropist and visionary Perry Rosenstein, President of the Puffin Foundation, created and established an endowed fund for this human rights award in 2010. Previous award winners include Judge Baltasar Garzón; Kate Doyle and Fredy Peccerelli; United We Dream; Bryan Stevenson; la Asociación para la Recuperación de la Memoria Histórica; Lydia Cacho and Jeremy Scahill; Proactiva Open Arms; and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.

ALBA Annual Celebration and Award Ceremony

Sunday, May 5, 4:30-6:00pm | Museum of the City of New York (1220 Fifth Ave at 103rd St.)

Reception Following

Honorary Committee: Bryan Stevenson, Almudena Carracedo, Robert Bahar, Mona Hanna-Attisha, Adam Hochschild, Alfonso Cuarón

$30 advance tickets
[discounts available for students and teachers]
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