KIND and Troutman Sanders led six teams to Capitol Hill for 13 meetings with Congressional staffers during our 2012 Advocacy Day to gain support for vital services that help unaccompanied children in the United States, including the facilitation of pro bono representation.
More than 30 pro bono attorneys from firms participated, including Kirkland & Ellis, Cooley, Dickstein Shapiro, Hughes Hubbard, Nixon Peabody, and Troutman Sanders. The Director of the American Bar Association’s Center for Pro Bono also joined, as did a refugee from South Sudan who came to the United States as an unaccompanied child.
After introductions by Mark Newman, Chair of Troutman Sanders’ Immigration Practice Group, and Amie Colby, Managing Partner of the firm’s Washington, DC, office, Chief Judge Eric T. Washington of the D.C. Court of Appeals opened the day with a keynote address.
“I have handled hundreds of cases involving children who have been abused, abandoned, and neglected,” Judge Washington said. “Those cases were some of the most gut-wrenching and difficult cases that I oversaw. Representing children requires a lot of patience and a lot of passion. Your passion in ensuring equal justice for these children is critical. The practice of law is not only a calling but also a responsibility.”
Bill Kamela, Policy Director of the Microsoft Corporation, Robert Leebern, Troutman Sanders’ President of Federal Affairs, and David Shahoulian, Democratic Chief Counsel to the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Policy, and Enforcement held a panel discussion on how best to engage Congressional offices when talking about the needs and vulnerabilities of unaccompanied children.
Each expert provided their perspective on legislative advocacy based upon their professional backgrounds. They stressed the importance of personalizing the issues and encouraged pro bono attorneys to tell Congressional staff about their experience representing unaccompanied children, about the children, and to describe what would have happened to the child if she/he did not have an attorney.See pictures here! KIND staff explained the materials in each participant’s Advocacy Day binder, which included talking points, important facts and about KIND and unaccompanied children, and background to help the attorneys be prepared for their meetings. On Capitol Hill, Advocacy Day participants told Congressional staffers about their work with KIND and requested their office’s support for unaccompanied children’s services in the FY2013 Appropriations bill. This was the first time most of the pro bono attorneys had engaged in legislative advocacy. The teams received encouraging responses; many offices were impressed with the KIND public-private partnership model and the success KIND has had in finding representation for these children, as well as the dedication of the attorneys. KIND will follow up with each office to try to secure their support as the funding bill makes its way to the full Appropriations Committee. Thank you to all who participated; we hope to see you and even more KIND supporters at KIND-Troutman Sanders’ 2013 Advocacy Day! See pictures here!
Advocacy Day 2011
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