Washington Immigrant Defense Network (WIDEN) celebrated its launch this month with a sold-out training on removal defense for lawyers and announcement of a $25,000 grant from FWD.us, an organization devoted to applying policy, advocacy and technology towards creating "a stronger America."
At the event, which took place at Seattle University on Tuesday, January 29th, FWD.us President, Todd Schulte, and keynote speaker, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, spoke to the nonprofit’s potential to increase the capacity and quality of legal services available to immigrants in Washington state.
“The deportation protection network that is being setup here can really revolutionize the way in which we are protecting the vulnerableimmigrant populations” said Schulte.He added, “We are really excited to be able to directly help WIDEN get off the ground. We cannot imagine better partners and are thankful for the leadership being shown here” when announcing FWD.us grant to WIDEN: a new organization dedicated to training Washington lawyers in immigration and detention/removal law.
Shortly following the launch, the Washington State Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) awarded WIDEN the 2019 Pro Bono Award, testament to its impact and potential to improving immigration services moving forward.
For many who have watched, helpless, as families have been destroyed, community members shut into detention
centers and others deported to unsafe countries abroad, Washington Immigrant Defense Network offers an avenue for non-immigration lawyers and individuals from many walks of life to make a positive impact on the lives of immigrants.
The nonprofit trains lawyers from all areas of the law to aid in immigration defense and simultaneously provides funding to specialist immigration attorneys who lack the resources to take on more pro-bono work. In doing so, it allowsdefenders to continue working on difficult cases involving low-income immigrants with the added support of a highly trained team.
“WIDEN is providing an innovative solution to a national problem that has reached crisis level and we are thrilled to be partnering with FWD.us to make this happen,” says WIDEN founder Tahmina Watson. “By providing these specialists with the funding they need, and a task force of specially trained lawyers and community volunteers to do the heavy lifting, WIDEN envisions a future where all detained immigrants will one day receive legal representation."
As of today, an estimated 90% of immigrants held in detention centers receive no representation; however, the presence of a lawyer makes deportation 10 times less likely in such cases.
For the last two years, immigration lawyers have acted as first responders to the chaos created by sweeping changes to immigration policy under the Trump administration. There simply aren’t enough immigration lawyers to meet the growing demand.
Isabel Soloaga. Edited by Sarah Stuteville, CAIR Washington.
Press Inquiries please contact WIDEN Communications Coordinator,
Isabel Soloaga | 707-438-5115| [email protected]