Category Archives: advocacy

The Dilley Project: UB Students at the US-Mexico Border – Second Post

by Teresa Watson

Read the initial post at this link: https://socialworksynergy.org/2019/01/25/the-dilley-project-ub-students-at-the-us-mexico-border-1st-post/

 

First day in Dilley: 1/21/19

I didn’t have the energy to write out notes last night, beyond some bullet points, so I’m writing this morning from the facility while I wait for my partner to finish up a “Charla” (a chat or conversation), which is essentially a group informational session to inform the clients about the Credible Fear Interview (CFI) process they will undertake to establish that they are eligible to make their Asylum claims in court, and about how the volunteer lawyers will help them talk through their asylum claims before the have to meet with the Asylum Officer to present their claim.

 

 

Map of southeast Texas, showing, from North to South: Austin, San Antonio, Dilley, and Laredo which is in the border of Mexico.

Dilley is about 85 miles north of Laredo on the border. Map: City-Data.com

 

Our morning began very early, getting up at 6 AM in order to grab showers, eat breakfast at the hotel and arrive at a neighboring hotel for a make-up training for the one we missed Sunday night. It was really interesting, and I took a ton of notes – the team here has really gotten specific with what does and doesn’t work well here, with legal cases.

 

Prep Sessions

I have a ton of updates! It turns out that I’m doing almost the exact same work as the law students, at least during the day: I am doing CFI (Credible Fear Interview) Prep sessions with Cary, an attorney and one of our team who is helping to translate for me. As I talked to the other teams, it seems all teams broke down the roles in similar ways: Cary translates the gist of the information for me, and I take notes and do slightly more of the structural/legal labor for the case (I will explain more on that later); Cary does more of the intensive labor of listening for important details, which we can further discuss with the client to see if those experiences are likely to qualify them for asylum. Since I am keeping notes – and luckily I understand enough Spanish to take super-basic notes on the details the women tell to Cary. I then flesh them out when his translates. I create timelines to fit the women’s cases to the structure the Dilley project uses to help women meet asylum criteria. I try to be sure we review all of the questions that the asylum office will ask the women, as well as some screening questions – to determine if they were illegally denied entry at the border, if they are pregnant, if they have been separated from their family by the detention centers, if they have experienced domestic violence.

Frustrations

I find that I’m worried about the client interviews, and that I cannot know if I’m doing enough to prepare them. A few hours is such a small amount of time for someone to tell their entire life’s story, or to establish the threats to their liberty or life that they have lived with and had to flee from. I also find that the language barrier is a tremendous frustration when I can’t respond directly to their questions, revelations, etc. We only talked to three women yesterday, and we started around 12:30 PM, and went until 7:30 PM; the on-the-ground volunteers tell us that we will get faster, and more confident and comfortable, as the week goes on.

young woman and boy kneel in front of a protest sign, chalking words on pavement

Refugee Rights Protest (Australia) Photo credit: Takver CC BY-SA 2.0

 

 

 

Stay tuned!!

Teresa’s third post will be published January 28, 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teresa (head, shoulders, arms) holding lilacs, lying on ground with eyes closed

Teresa Watson is in her second year as an Advanced Standing MSW student and will graduate in May 2019.      Photo: from author

 

 

 

The Dilley Project: UB Students at the US-Mexico Border – 1st post

by Teresa Watson

Editor’s Note: We’re pleased to bring you this series by one of our #MSW students about her volunteer work during the 2018-19 winter intersession. Comments are welcome!

 

A pair of hands are cupped, each holding a torn piece of paper bag with one word written on it.

Photo: UB Law School

 

Hello, readers – I’m Teresa! It’s nice to meet you. I’m an advanced-year MSW student, a Graduate Assistant for the Global Interest Group in the University at Buffalo School of Social Work, and a volunteer with Justice for Migrant Families in Western New York. I’m part of a team of law and social work students who are spending this week at the South Texas Family Detention Center in Dilley, Texas, assisting asylum seekers.

I hope these daily accounts (there will be a week’s worth of posts) will give you a picture of what asylum seekers encounter at the southern border.

To prepare, the law students completed two weeks of intensive study in refugee and asylum law, three hours a day, four days a week. I attended half of these classes, and studied independently to gain more knowledge about social work, trauma and working with refugees.   I also adapted a presentation by Katie McClain-Meeder, MSW, and led a class on trauma and vicarious trauma in crisis work for the law students.

Picture of boy being carried by brother, as family walks ahead in rural area with mountains in distance

Slide from presentation to law students on trauma

 

 

On our way

Right now it is 6 PM on Sunday, January 20th, 2019, and I am on a plane with five JD students, one JD/MSW student and one PhD Candidate in the Romance Languages. We are headed to Dilley, Texas, as a volunteer team with UB Law Professor Nicole Hallett, who directs the U.S.-Mexico Border Clinic, attorney Carey who practices immigration law, and clinical social worker(MSW) Maria, from Rochester, New York.

In Dilley, we will be working with asylum seekers from various countries who have been detained at the U.S./Mexico border; our team will be working with women who have children at this particular facility. We will work in pairs, preparing as many women as possible for their initial interviews with US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officers. These interviews determine whether they pass the “credible fear” standard, which is the legal standard that says the asylum officer must find at least a 10% chance that their fear of harm —  the harm they fear they will face if they return to their home —  is “credible” or realistic.  If they pass the interview, they become eligible to plead their case in court at a later time and remain in the US to keep them safe from the credible fears they were facing in their prior home.

two picnic benches in front of a long view of trailer-like tan buildings ngs

South Texas Family Residential Center, Dilley, Texas. Photo credit: US Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Read more

Sustainability and Social Work: Earth Day 2017

by Pat Shelly

Sustainability and Environmentalism

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” This is an old Yankee/New England proverb that resounds with our more environmentally-conscious society today.

Sustainability is  a word that appears more frequently in the press around Earth Day, which is observed on April 22 in the US. Many slogans address environmental issues. Some instruct: “Reduce, Reuse, Recyle,” or humorously inform: “Recyclers do it over and over again,” or recommend:

 

Smiling man in baseball cap with arms hugging a big tree. Only one arm is visible as tree's circumference is too large to encircle with his arms. is too big to get

Photo: Carolina Hoyos Lievano / World Bank

 

 

 

 

 

“Hug a tree, they have fewer issues than people.”

 

 

 

Read more

Cultural Humility: A Lesson Plan for Social Work

By Sarah Richards-Desai, MSW

 

The UB School of Social Work has developed a new resource to assist students, faculty, and practitioners in their understanding of cultural humility. Conversations about Culture: Video and Lesson Plan  introduces students, practitioners, and the public to the concept of cultural humility. This module includes a 12-minute video, containing interviews and content designed to raise questions and introduce the concept of cultural humility in social work. There are additional resources, a lesson plan, and some possible activities to try on your own or in a classroom setting.

Video for the UBSSW Cultural Humility module

Video for the UBSSW Cultural Humility module

Read more

« Older Entries Recent Entries »