The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) defends the rights of immigrants and refugees; empowers individuals, families, and communities; and advocates for liberty and justice. Founded in 1986 as the Refugee Aid Project, RAICES provides legal and social services to disenfranchised immigrants and refugees, including families and unaccompanied children, and pairs direct client service with impact litigation and advocacy focused on expanding permanent protections for immigrants and changing the narrative around immigration in the U.S. Each year, RAICES opens more than 10,000 affirmative and defensive direct representation cases, including social services case management; provides Know Your Rights presentations and legal intakes in 15 shelters and select emergency facilities for unaccompanied children; and resettles more than 200 refugee parents and children, including Afghan Special Immigrant Visa holders.
DALLAS or HOUSTON, TX
Supervisor: Managing Attorney
Legal Assistants report directly to a local Attorney or Supervising Legal Assistant in support of affirmative or removal defense legal services at RAICES. The Innovator will work either on the Affirmative Services team or the Removal Defense team, depending on the Innovator’s preference, skills and organizational needs, which will be decided at the time of the candidate interviews. The Innovator may also choose to work from either the Dallas or Houston office.
Affirmative Services include, but are not limited to: legal intakes and representation for immigrants who have suffered crimes in the U.S., such as domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. Statistically, many affirmative service recipients belong to cultural minorities and/or do not speak English as their native language. RAICES is continuously expanding services to meet the unique challenges faced by these survivors with cultural awareness and sensitivity.
Removal Defense employs a Universal Representation Model (URM) and an Alternative Representation Model (ARM). Pursuant to the URM cases are accepted on a “first-come, first-served” basis without regard to likelihood of relief, case type, nationality, language, or any other factors. RAICES employs the ARM for those cases where a monthly cap of cases has been reached, but there is an additional qualifier, like strong and compelling eligibility for relief. When clients are released from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody on bond or recognizance, RAICES guarantees continued representation in removal proceedings, including representation in applications for employment authorization and continued referrals to social services in the community as appropriate throughout the removal proceedings.
Legal Assistants work collaboratively with a team or an individual attorney to provide zealous representation of individuals pursuing benefits or seeking relief under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
- Assisting attorneys providing direct representation to individuals eligible for immigration relief with their caseload.
- Meeting with clients telephonically and preparing applications for review.
- Preparing filings for individuals before the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and others.
- Handling incoming and outgoing mail remotely.
- Gathering supporting documents and preparing translations.
- Assuming general administrative responsibilities, including detailed case management, and timekeeping.
- Gathering, tracking, and recording client data.
- Managing both electronic and paper case files including client case log.
- Providing Pro Se assistance to prospective clients.
- Conducting initial interviews (“Legal Screenings”) in accordance with RAICES policy.
- Screening clients for persecution, trafficking, and torture utilizing trauma-informed approaches to provide services and support to clients.
- Providing referrals for released clients in accordance with RAICES policy.
- Assisting with advocacy efforts and community outreach.
- Conducting Know Your Rights presentations using approved material.
- Traveling to detention facilities/shelters and other locations locally and/or statewide, as needed.
- Monitoring voicemail for client support hotline(s).
- Providing support to volunteers.
- Other relevant tasks as assigned.
- Proficient in use of technology including MS Office, Google Apps, and internet research.
- Proficient in Spanish (written and verbal).
- Ability to travel to cities within Texas; please note that all travel is facilitated and underwritten by RAICES.
- Federal background check.
- Commitment to social justice evidenced by job and/or volunteer/intern experience.
- Must demonstrate behavior that aligns with RAICES’ mission, vision and values – Empowerment, Excellence, Compassion, Inclusion and being Proactive.
- Able to communicate cross-culturally and work in a multicultural setting with patience and compassion with diverse individuals.
- Ability to work independently and as part of a diverse, multidisciplinary team.
- Strong organizational and time-management skills.
- Excellent oral and written communication skills.