BakerRipley’s Immigration Legal Services Collaborative By Cindy Ramirez I am an immigration attorney at the non-profit, BakerRipley, and as part of the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative, I provide free legal representation to people detained in the four immigration jails in the greater Houston area. While courts hearing nondetained cases closed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Immigration Court in Conroe, Texas, never stopped Cindy Ramirez moving forward with detained people’s cases. Because of the global pandemic, I started setting up legal calls with clients and mailing forms and documents for them to review, sign, and send back to me in self-addressed stamped enve-
lopes, because I could not visit them in person. I, along with opposing counsel, also started appearing in court telephonically. Clients appeared via video teleconference, meaning none of us were in the courtroom with the immigration judge anymore. Preparing for court was challenging because legal calls were in short supply and clients were terrified of both being deported and contracting COVID-19 in the immigration jails, with limited opportunity for social distancing. My clients have kept me going throughout the pandemic because, in spite of the many obstacles they encountered throughout their lives, they are extremely resilient and hopeful. Cindy Ramirez is an Immigration Justice Corps Fellow and immigration attorney at BakerRipley.
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