Baltimore, MD – As it prepares to mark the 12th annual National Celebration of Pro Bono at the end of October, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) today announced it is honoring outstanding pro bono attorneys in Baltimore who are providing vital legal services to refugee and immigrant children who come alone to the United States in search of safety. These attorneys, who serve as the heart of KIND’s mission, are volunteers who go above and beyond to help these children make their case for U.S. protection.
Children who come to KIND are among the most vulnerable in our society. Many have fled life-threatening violence, including gang and narco-violence in their home countries in Central America, and come to the United States in hopes of finding safety. They are not provided an attorney in their removal proceedings; without counsel, it is nearly impossible for them to navigate the U.S. immigration system.
“I could not be more pleased to honor our volunteers who truly live KIND’s mission – to protect unaccompanied children in their journey to safety,” said KIND President Wendy Young. “KIND’s volunteers are these children’s lifeline, providing legal assistance, interpretation, and other crucial support, as well as simply being a trusted and caring adult in the child’s life. These children have been through so much in their young lives, many fleeing violence and other danger, and KIND’s volunteers stand with them to help them access the protection they so need and deserve.”
Last year, KIND received over 175,000 hours and $103 million in pro bono legal services, bringing its total for pro bono services to more than 880,000 hours and $475 million in pro bono services since 2009. KIND’s pro bono legal volunteers do not need immigration experience. The organization provides expert training and mentorship for the duration of the cases. Attorneys who volunteer with KIND work directly with our child clients and gain valuable courtroom experience among other skills. Nearly all say that the most valuable part of their experience was getting to know the child clients and helping to change the trajectory of the child’s life.
KIND is thrilled to honor our 2020 volunteers in Baltimore and thank them for their service to unaccompanied children:
Akil Tirana, Esq.
Akil has taken ten pro bono cases with KIND’s Baltimore office to date and working with him has been a pleasure. He has demonstrated his dedication and hit-the-ground-running approach to representing and supporting unaccompanied children in each case he has taken and is always eager to help out when he can, going above and beyond when necessary. Not only does Akil work hard, but he has obtained successful results. When clients are placed with Akil, it is always with the assurance that they are in good hands.
“I think every attorney, despite their practice field, has a great opportunity to help change the trajectory of a child’s life that may face dire consequences if they miss their Immigration court hearing date or the opportunity to apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) when they qualify. For many of us, the subject matter of these cases may be new; however, KIND mentor attorneys are always there to support us along the way.”
John Warshawsky, Esq.
John first came to KIND in May 2019 and it was quickly apparent that he was committed to his clients and to ensuring that they received excellent representation. John has gone the extra mile for his clients, both figuratively and literally, whether working expeditiously on cases with tight deadlines and driving to court to obtain orders in age-out situations or taking on additional siblings as clients.
“Working with KIND has been particularly meaningful for me because we are doing what we can to protect some of the world’s most vulnerable in the face of Administration policies that often defy our nation’s responsibility to provide refuge and aid to victims of persecution.”
John Leary, volunteer interpreter
John has demonstrated his commitment to helping others with his excellent language skills through his volunteer interpreter work. John honed his language skills over the years through teaching and volunteer work and is one of the best interpreters we have the good fortune to call a partner. He is consistently willing to help, professional, and sensitive to the needs of our clients. John recently traveled to the Arlington Asylum Office to interpret for an extremely important asylum interview on short notice despite the COVID-19 pandemic and did an exemplary job navigating logistical concerns and an unfamiliar arrangement.
“Each time I go to an asylum hearing to interpret for a client, I know that my contribution will be to simply let their words have voice. I am always aware of how important that moment is in their lives, for me it is three hours or so of volunteer time, for the client it may be everything. It is such an honor to be a part of this work on behalf of the children and young people who need defense.”
KIND’s presented its national 2020 awards to DLA Piper, Jones Day, and JP Morgan Chase. As dedicated KIND pro bono partners, these honorees have demonstrated in a variety of ways their extraordinary commitment to ensuring that unaccompanied children have a fair chance to make their case and are not returned to the very danger from which they fled.
Media Contact: Megan McKenna, email@example.com, 202-631-9990