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Thursday, November 21, 2019

BRADLEY ARANT BOULT CUMMINGS: Bradley Attorney Katherine Blankenship Aids Asylum Seekers Through Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative

By Press release submission | Sep 23, 2019

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Bradley Arant Boult Cummings issued the following announcement on Sept. 17.

Bradley is pleased to announce that Katherine H. Blankenship, an attorney in the firm’s Nashville office, recently completed pro bono legal work on behalf of asylum seekers through the Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative (SIFI), a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

Ms. Blankenship spent one week in July providing pro bono assistance to detainees seeking bond and/or parole from the Stewart Detention Center (SDC) in Lumpkin, Ga. SDC is one of the largest immigration detention centers in the country and currently holds approximately 2,000 detainees. Created in partnership with Immigration Justice Campaign, SIFI provides legal representation to detainees in interior detention centers across the Southeast.

“It was a privilege to work with the Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative and provide support and help that these immigrants so desperately need and deserve,” Ms. Blankenship said. “It was heartbreaking and humbling to hear the asylum seekers’ stories. Each person has gone through incredible difficulties in their home countries, only to face the extreme trauma of prolonged detention and isolation upon arrival in the United States.”

Tiffany M. Graves, Bradley’s pro bono counsel, said, “We are extremely grateful to Katie for her passion and devotion to this initiative and for enduring highly stressful conditions while working with SIFI on behalf of asylum seekers. We are very proud of Katie and the many Bradley attorneys who each year donate thousands of hours to meaningful pro bono work in our local communities and elsewhere.”

Most detainees at the SDC are asylum seekers who have been found credible by ICE after having entered the United States through a port of entry or sought asylum after illegally crossing the border. As of May 2018, the average wait time for a pending asylum case was around 700 days. This holds true at SDC, with asylum seekers typically remaining in detention for approximately a year and a half if they are denied bond or parole. SIFI provides pro bono legal representation to detainees at five interior detention centers throughout the Southeast, with a focus on getting detainees out of detention and helping them find legal representation in their place of residence.

Ms. Blankenship spent much of her time at the SDC interviewing detainees for SIFI’s screening process and making recommendations as to whether SIFI should consider taking each case. She also conducted intake interviews with detainees whom SIFI agreed to represent in the process of seeking bond and/or parole.

“SIFI works to safeguard immigrants’ due process rights and also has been involved in cases to hold ICE and detention center personnel accountable for civil rights violations,” Ms. Blankenship added. “They have worked to change policies at detention centers that have attempted to thwart asylum seekers’ access to legal counsel and visitors. Other issues that SIFI has addressed include lack of medical care, sexual abuse and assault of trans detainees, and guard abuses.”

In her law practice as a member of Bradley’s Construction and Government Contracts practice group, Ms. Blankenship represents real estate owners and developers in construction disputes involving design errors, defects, delays, inefficiency, unforeseen site conditions, and cost overruns. Her practice primarily focuses on alternative dispute resolution, including multi-party international and domestic arbitrations and mediations. In addition, she counsels clients on a wide range of civil litigation matters, internal corporate investigations and government enforcement actions. Her experience also includes international law, healthcare, manufacturing, hospitality, and private residential construction disputes.

Original source can be found here.

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