Joe Boccassini, Michelle Pallak, and Ana Caquias have put their personal lives on hold this week to travel to Ocilla, Georgia. They will be working the entire week with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to assist and defend immigrants who are being held at the Irwin County Detention Center. Asylum-seekers who have been shipped from various border crossings to the Georgia detention facilities have only a 2% success rate on their claims to stay in the U.S. in safety, compared to the 50% success rate nationwide. The Irwin County Detention Center is deep in rural Georgia, where almost none of the people being held have access to counsel.
The SPLC program uses pro bono lawyers’ time to effectively bring representation to those in need so that the immigration system functions fairly. Jennifer Strutt spent a week earlier this year working in the Dilley, Texas, detention center. She can attest that immigrants seeking safety in the United States have often escaped unspeakable violence and discrimination in their home countries and, without counsel, have little chance of mastering the complexities of immigration law, assembling their evidence, or otherwise effectively representing themselves.
Joe, Amy, Michelle, and Ana (and Jennifer before them) exemplify the selflessness and compassion that McCarter’s pro bono program was built upon—to connect those in desperate need with the resources and great talents of our firm. We are fortunate to call them our colleagues and wish them great success on their mission.