Immigrant Detainee Justice Project

What is the Immigrant Detainee Justice Project?

  • The Immigrant Detainee Justice Project (IDJP) is a collaborative project between ATJI and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) in Tacoma.

  • Through IDJP, law students act as court observers at the Northwest Detention Center. Students attend, observe, and analyze court proceedings in order to assist NWIRP staff and pro bono attorneys in preparing detainees to represent themselves.

How does the program work?

  • Students attend or view online a 1.5 hour training to learn about the immigration system, the needs of NWIRP, and the responsibilities of acting as a court observer. They then attend, observe, and analyze court proceedings, sending their notes to NWIRP.
  • Interested law students will be given specific forms to fill out during their observation. An average observation will take about 2.5-3 hours, excluding travel time. Student can volunteer as often as once per week, once a month, or just once a semester. 
  • NWIRP attorneys use the students' observations to provide better information and legal assistance to the 90% of detainees at the Northwest Detention Center who do not have legal representation. The information is also archived and made available to NWIRP and pro bono attorneys who have cases before the court. 

Why should students get involved?

  • Approximately 90% of detainees have no legal counsel and will represent themselves. The information students gather through court observation is vital for NWIRP attorneys working to prepare detained individuals to effectively represent themselves. 
  • Through court observation, students will gain understanding of the immigration system, as well as hone their legal analysis, legal writing, and observation skills. 
  • Students will have the opportunity to meet practicing immigration attorneys, judges, and advocates.
  • Students can accumulate pro bono hours under the Pro Bono Pledge Program.

What kind of a commitment do you need to make to be involved?

  • Law students should expect to attend or view a 1.5 hour training prior to observation and commit to observing at least once a semester. The average observation will take 2.5-3 hours, excluding travel time to and from Tacoma.
  • Carpools to and from Tacoma can be arranged. 

How do I apply?

  • Interested students should email Patricia Sully, ATJI Assistant Director at Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. 

What training is offered?

  • Students will attend or view online a 1.5 hour training on the immigration system and court observation.

Professor Margaret Chon teaching