When help is needed in local neighborhoods or across the country, UAW members don’t hesitate to step up. That couldn’t be more true for legal services workers with the Legal Staff Services Association, represented by UAW Local 2320. More than a dozen members will head to Texas to volunteer their legal knowledge and expertise for some of the most urgent legal cases today.
The 13 UAW members will use vacation time to travel to the Dilley immigration detention center in Dilley, Texas, in December as part of the Dilley Pro Bono Project (DPBP). Sparked by the countless reports of women and children incarcerated at Dilley after trying to enter the U.S. to flee violence in their home countries, the 13 UAW members joined the team at Dilley to provide legal advocacy for the detainees, most of whom cannot afford legal services. Each group of volunteers signs up for a week of service comprised of 15 to 18 hour work days.
Local 2320’s Sonja Shield says like many of our ancestors, these immigrants are fleeing war and poverty to protect their families. “But unlike many of our ancestors, they’re not being given a path in. Our country has made it harder than ever for immigrants to seek refuge. It is shameful that we are now wrenching children from their families and throwing them in cages,” said Shield.
The 13 attorneys, paralegals and organizers from New York City will arrive in Dilley in December after an online orientation that reviews rules, goals and procedures at the facility. Once they arrive they’ll be given case and task assignments and get to work doing everything from appearing in court and providing protection to the women and children to collecting data.
These compassionate UAW members are living the ideal of UAW membership – dignity on the job and giving back to the community wherever it’s needed. Their service “fits right in with our country’s ideals”, said Shield. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free … I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
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