Legal Services

Making a Case for Justice

It is helpful to be able to call a lawyer at TASSC. It turns out they are not only our lawyers, they are our friends and families. We share our pain, we cry, we laugh together. Not only did they help me, they really helped the whole community of survivors.
— TASSC Survivor

Program Overview

TASSC’s Legal Services Program provides quality legal representation in asylum cases at no cost to the applicant.  Low-income immigrants in the Washington DC Metro area face unique barriers in accessing trauma-informed legal services and immigration-related, culturally-appropriate information.  Furthermore, delays in the asylum system, as well as a harsher political climate towards immigrants, make TASSC's legal services even more essential to survivors. As a result, demand for our direct legal representation services in the Washington DC Metro area continues to outpace capacity.

Staffed by trauma-informed immigration attorneys with expertise in asylum law, TASSC's Legal Services Program represents clients in affirmative and defensive asylum cases; helps survivors navigate the complex asylum process at the asylum office and in immigration court;  conducts Know Your Rights presentations; assist clients with applying for work authorization cards; and, provides brief advice clinics.   In 2017, TASSC provided direct legal representation in over 75 asylum cases.

TASSC’s unique interdisciplinary model allows the legal team to collaborate with colleagues in social and psychological services to ensure that TASSC is treating the whole survivor. Due to growing backlogs in the asylum process,  most survivors can expect to wait for years for an asylum interview. As a result, many survivors experience prolonged separation from family, resulting in ongoing traumatic stress and heightened psychological symptoms. Thus, in addition to providing direct legal services, TASSC's legal team collaborates with social and psychological services to ensure survivors are connected to appropriate resources.

PROGRAM ACTIVITES

Legal Orientations

TASSC conducts monthly legal orientation presentations to educate and empower survivors about the asylum process and address the range of their legal concerns.  Topics have included:

  • asylum law,

  • policy changes to the asylum process,

  • where to find good legal help,

  • what to look for and ask when working with an attorney,

  • employment rights in the United states, and

  • mock asylum interviews.

 

Medical and Psychological Forensic Evaluations

TASSC's legal team collaborates with psychological services to obtain medical and/or psychological forensic evaluations for survivors in support of their asylum claims.  TASSC’s clinicians and partners have specialized training and experience in recognizing, evaluating, and documenting the trauma of persecution, discrimination, detention, and fear of return - issues that are central to applications for asylum.  The evaluations submitted by the clinical and medical evaluators are significant in corroborating the client’s persecution and are important factors in evaluating asylum claims. TASSC’s interdisciplinary model puts the legal team in a unique position to provide services that are otherwise costly and inaccessible to many in our community.

 

Pro Bono Asylum Program (PBAP)

PBAP trains and coordinates volunteer legal professionals to represent clients in asylum law.  The Pro Bono Program strives to provide high-quality training and skills development to attorneys, while simultaneously increasing TASSC’s ability to serve low-income clients.