Southern Border in Our NY: Lawyers Screen 300+ Asylum Seekers in 1 Month at Albany Jail

July 31st, 2018

“Detention Outreach Project” continues to monitor cases as families still separated

NEW YORK, NY - While the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy continues to separate migrant children from their parents, the Detention Outreach Project (DOP) has successfully screened 300 migrants who were uprooted from the southern border to the Albany County Jail.

This is the largest known transfer of individuals from the border into a single facility, as detention centers in the south have met capacity as a result of the zero tolerance policy.

Working with the support of Sheriff Craig Apple and his staff, volunteer lawyers from all over the state have traveled to the facility to screen detainees individually and, when appropriate, prepare them for their Credible Fear Interviews.

“In just a month, the lawyers at the Detention Outreach Project have already done a better job managing the chaos than the man who created this situation in the first place,” said Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “This is our New York and we will continue to work together to fight for the rule of law.”

“We have provided an enormous amount of legal assistance with the help of the Sheriff and his staff, but our work is far from done. With such a deep well of willing attorney volunteers, I’m confident that we will continue to restore due process where the Trump Administration has sought to take it away,” said Sarah Rogerson, Director of the Immigration Law Clinic at Albany Law School.

“The Capital District has responded in an unprecedented way. From Bibles and prayer rugs to socks and underwear, people have stepped up to show how much we care,” said Lisa Frisch, Executive Director of The Legal Project.

In only one month the Detention Outreach Project has:

  • Screened 312 individuals to assess their legal situation and responded to immediate needs; These individuals include:

    • Nationals of 39 countries: Albania, Angola, Bangladesh, Brazil, Burundi, Cameroon, China, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritania, Mexico, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Romania, Russa, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Syria, Turkey, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Vietnam

    • Speakers of 19 languages: Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, English, French, Gujarati, Hindi, Lingala, Nepali, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Tigrinya, Turkish, Twi, and Urdu.

  • Prepared 141 individuals for their credible fear interviews;

  • Identified 22 individuals who were separated from their families at the border, including 17 parents separated from minor children who do not appear to fall within the class for the current injunction;

  • Identified at least 43 individuals who were detained after presenting themselves at a port of entry to request asylum, including several who were separated at the port of entry from minor children, spouses, parents or adult children.

  • Coordinated 388 volunteers with the support of the Association of Pro Bono Counsel (APBCo), attorneys from 37 law firms, the Immigrant Advocates Response Collaborative (I-ARC), and 15 non-profits. In addition, 8 universities and law schools, and the New York State Bar Association have provided invaluable support with emergency funding from the New York Department of State.

As the DOP moves into its next stage, attorneys are preparing to:

  • Assist more clients for credible fear interviews;

  • Assess broader issues including conditions of transfer, attempts by the federal government to infringe upon due process, and unfounded allegations and misapplication of law by immigration agencies.

  • Follow up on individual issues requiring immediate attention;

  • When possible, connect individual clients to legal representation for the remainder of their cases.


The Immigration Law Clinic at Albany Law School, the Legal Project of Albany, and the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) launched the Detention Outreach Project to meet the legal needs of immigrants detained at Albany County Jail.