Saralyn Cohen and I have been working with Legal Aid, NYIC, NYCBA and others to create the Downstate CFI Project. This is very similar to the Albany Project we helped launch last summer. We send you this email at the request of the legal services providers and as APBCo liaisons to ask you to recruit volunteer lawyers from your firms to participate. This is limited scope project where volunteers will be trained and supervised to prepare recently arrived asylum seekers detained in New Jersey for their CFI hearings. For now, the shifts available are half days from July 16-26 in Hudson County Correctional Facility. However, we anticipate expanding soon to Bergen County as well.  Both facilities have received a large number of immigrant transfers from the southern border.
Below are the details. Let us know if you have questions.
Thank you as always —
Harlene and Saralyn
Over the years, there has been a growing humanitarian crisis at our southern border stemming from an increased number of migrants, many from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, fleeing their home country for the United States due to violence, political unrest and oppression, persecution, and murder. These individuals arrive to the United States seeking safe refuge and an opportunity to apply for asylum protection. In May 2019, over 250 asylum seekers who were detained at the southern border were transferred to the New York City area to await a process called the Credible Fear Interview (CFI). The CFI is an important hurdle for an asylum seeker to overcome in order to fully present their asylum claim or other relief before an immigration judge. Unfortunately, due to harsh immigration policies and a broken immigration system, there continues to be an unyielding backlog of asylum seekers who remain detained in jails often without the assistance of legal counsel to guide them through the Credible Fear Interview process. 
The Downstate CFI Project, a coalition with The Legal Aid Society, New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), New York City Bar Association (NYCBA), Catholic Charities, and Immigration Professor Sarah Rogerson from Albany Law School, is an all-volunteer effort to bring free legal assistance and interpreter services to asylum seekers who are currently detained in the New York and New Jersey ICE facilities and are awaiting their Credible Fear Interviews. APBCo will facilitate assistance from the private bar. This is a call to APBCo member firms for volunteers. The specific needs, and sign up directions, are below. 
This is a limited scope project in that there is no expectation of full representation of any of these detainees. There will be limited scope waivers available on site. 
The clients will have already received a Know Your Rights CFI presentation before you meet them. The detainees are recent border transfers, who have not yet been screened for asylum and the large majority will need to be prepared for their CFI. There may be a small number that are post-CFI in need of other legal assistance. On-site supervisors will only be responsible for assisting anyone who is post-CFI. A majority of the detainees speak Spanish, but other less common languages might also be spoken.
We seek attorney volunteers to travel to Hudson County Correctional Facility, located at 30-35 Hackensack Avenue, Kearny, NJ 07032 to meet with individual detainees, screen for asylum and prepare them for CFI’s. We are not recruiting non-attorney volunteers at this time given the space restrictions in the facility. We are seeking attorneys with some immigration experience (a basic understanding of asylum or other forms of relief). Attorneys will not be able to work in teams given the space constraints at the facility, so please make sure your volunteers are able to interview clients on their own (an interpreter will be present). There are no language requirements for the attorneys since we have already recruited interpreters who will be available. However, if your volunteer speaks a language, they should indicate that on the sign up page.
Attorney volunteers will need proper government-issued ID (i.e., driver license or passport) and to demonstrate they are lawyers. Attorney volunteers in possession of a NYS Secure Pass ID card is sufficient. We suggest that attorney volunteers without a NYS Secure Pass ID card bring a NY state ID paired with a printout of the Attorney volunteer’s information from the attorney registration page: ( In the alternative, you can also get obtain a Certificate of Good Standing (COGS) from the NY court where you were admitted. Interested attorneys should request the COGS as soon as possible since processing time will take at least 1 week. The cost is minimal (about $10).  
Laptops and Cell Phones are prohibited during the interview process, volunteer attorneys will be able to use a personal locker to store their electronic devices while they are meeting with detainees. Please bring your own locks. The clothing policy at Hudson County Correctional Facility is strict, therefore, Business / Court Room Attire Is Mandatory!
Additionally, the following items are absolutely prohibited from the facility: Food, Drinks and Paper Clips (Binder clips are allowed).
Attorney volunteers are required to view and review CFI training materials before meeting their client(s). There are excellent materials and webinars on the Immigration Justice Campaign’s website ( and the Austin Bar Association’s June 25 webinar training ( A list of CFI preparation questions in English and Spanish for volunteers will be provided.
The Immigration Justice Campaign’s website has three webinars. In order to view the webinars and access other material, you can either create your own account or login with the following: 
login name: [email protected] / password: cfi12345
“Representing Asylum Seekers in Credible and Reasonable Fear Interviews”
“Mock Credible Fear Interview”
“Mock CFI Preparation Session”
There will be an immigration expert site supervisor at the facility during every shift. This person will be available to greet the volunteer attorneys, answer questions, and to collect information about the clients.
The Hudson County Correctional Facility is about a forty minute to one hour drive from Manhattan (depending on your starting point). The facility is located at 30-35 Hackensack Ave, Kearny, NJ 07032.
All travel costs must be borne by the volunteer attorneys/firms.
The lawyer shifts will be available 5 days a week, M-F. We will have a morning shift from 8:00 AM – 11:30 AM and an afternoon shift from 2:30 PM – 6:00 PM. Volunteers can sign up for one shift at a time or sign up for an AM & PM shift in the same day. However, volunteers will need to leave the facility between shifts if staying the full day. The “Truck Stop Diner” ( is down the street from the jail and has delicious homemade diner food.  
Volunteers will be able to sign up using the website “Sign-up Genius.” Volunteer names must be given to the facility for clearance 24 hours in advance so we will confirm each shift in advance. The anticipated sign up range is from July 16th through July 26th, but may be extended if necessary. To sign up as a volunteer, click the link below: