For Immediate Release

Guide Comes as Record-Setting Backlog of Immigrant Cases Face Uncertain Future

Washington, DC and Chicago, IL, February 14, 2017 – With refugees and other immigrants facing rapidly escalating challenges, the Appleseed Network today released a major new resource to help new and experienced attorneys navigate the complicated U.S. immigration court system and save immigrants from deportation, exile and persecution.

The new Practice Guide, titled “Getting Off the Assembly Line: Overcoming Immigration Court Obstacles in Individual Cases,” is a product of the Immigration Justice Collaboration of Appleseed, a non-profit network of 17 Centers across the U.S. and Mexico, dedicated to advancing justice and opportunities that help low-income people and working families build better lives.

A record half-million cases are waiting to be heard by U.S. immigration courts, which pose daunting obstacles: the near-absence of formal discovery, the challenges interpreting to and from foreign languages, and minimal out-of-court contact between attorneys, their clients and opposing counsel.

The Guide provides an overview of immigration court proceedings, as well as specific sections on working with clients in detention, obtaining client documents from the government, pre-hearing communications with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), dealing with interpretation and videoconferencing challenges and reporting immigration judge and DHS attorney misconduct. The Guide also provides several template and sample documents to assist attorneys in these cases.

This Guide should help every attorney do a better job in immigration court — and encourage more attorneys to do pro bono representation in these courts,” said Steve Schulman, co-chair of Appleseed’s national board.

“Better trained immigration attorneys will help insure that immigration courts are guided by due process and that they always follow the rule of law,” said Malcolm Rich, Executive Director of Chicago Appleseed.

“For more than two decades, the Appleseed Network has helped refugees and other immigrants seek justice and opportunity in the United States and Mexico. In this critical moment of moral and legal challenge, Appleseed and many of its Centers around the country are redoubling our efforts to help vulnerable immigrants and refugees: through systemic reforms, pro bono representation, and efforts to help immigrants build better lives and make our nation stronger. The Guide is the next crucial step in that work,” added Bert Brandenburg, President of Appleseed.

The law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP provided pro bono assistance and counsel in the development of the new Practice Guide. This is the latest in a series of immigration-related research and publishing projects on which Akin Gump and Appleseed have collaborated. Previous reports have included A DREAM Deferred: From DACA to Citizenship (PDF) and Reimagining the Immigration Court Assembly Line.

For more information and to download the report, please visit Appleseed’s website.

About Appleseed

A nonprofit network of 17 public interest justice centers in the U.S. and Mexico, Appleseed is dedicated to building a society in which opportunities are genuine, access to justice is universal and equal, and government advances the public interest.

For Immediate Release

Deb Silva Executive Director

Deb Silva Executive Director

Boston, MA, June 16, 2016 – Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice (Mass. Appleseed) announces today that it has selected Deborah Silva, Esq, as its new Executive Director. Starting in mid-July, Ms. Silva will lead Mass. Appleseed as it continues to pursue broad systemic reform initiatives focused on equity in public education and access to Massachusetts’ courts and legal system.

Silva has served as the Director of the Equal Justice Coalition for the past four years, within the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation. Equal Justice Coalition’s mission is to ensure civil legal assistance for low-income people in Massachusetts.

“Deborah is a talented advocate with extensive experience building coalitions around social policy initiatives and driving important change for Massachusetts residents,” said Martha Mazzone, Chair of the Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice Board of Directors. “Throughout her career, she has demonstrated her commitment to equality and justice. We are excited to see Deborah put her energy and ideas to work at Mass. Appleseed.”

“This is an amazing opportunity to employ policy and research along with advocacy and collaboration to push reform in Massachusetts,” said Silva.

Silva holds a law degree from Boston College. She has 20 years’ experience in law and advocacy, having worked previously as Director of Public Policy for AIDS Action Committee, Legislative Director for the Mass Law Reform Institute, and Legislative Aide to former state Rep. Carl Sciortino. Silva lives in Arlington with her wife and two children.

About Mass. Appleseed

Mass. Appleseed has been instrumental in leading vital systemic reform initiatives for over 20 years. By building on its experience and expertise as a leader, a convener and a trusted research and policy resource, Mass. Appleseed has been a key voice in influencing policy on education, youth homelessness issues, and the courts in Massachusetts.

For Immediate Release

Boston, MA, April 19, 2016 – Executive Director Joan Meschino of the Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice has won the Democratic primary in the special election for the open State Senate seat in the Plymouth and Norfolk district. In the wake of her victory, Meschino resigned her post as Executive Director effective immediately. Meschino had been on a leave of absence during her primary run.

The Board of Directors of Massachusetts Appleseed extends its thanks and recognition to Meschino for her leadership over the past eight years. During Meschino’s tenure, Massachusetts Appleseed has championed due process rights and equal treatment for children who are suspended and expelled from school, access to education for homeless children, and access to justice for underserved populations. Board Chair Martha Mazzone said, “We at Massachusetts Appleseed are grateful for Joan’s tireless and effective work on behalf of the Center and the citizens of the Commonwealth. Joan is leaving our Center stronger than she found it. Through Joan’s leadership, we are on a clear path for continuing to serve the community by seeking systemic solutions to social justice issues.”

The Board of Directors of Massachusetts Appleseed wishes Meschino the very best in her future endeavors and thanks her for many years of friendship and service.

About MA Appleseed

MA Appleseed’s mission is to promote equal rights and opportunities for Massachusetts residents by developing and advocating for systemic solutions to social justice issues. At MA Appleseed, we dedicate ourselves to remedying social injustices for at-risk and underserved children, youth, and adults. Working with volunteer lawyers, community partners, and others, we identify and address gaps in services and opportunities in areas such as education, homelessness, and the court system. Through in-depth research, community problem-solving, and consensus building, we develop powerful solutions that reform systems and structures.

For Immediate Release

Meschino takes leave of absence to run for office

Boston, MA, December 17, 2015 – Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice (MA Appleseed) has today named Sue Heilman as interim executive director. With more than 25 years of experience leading mission-based non-profit organizations, Ms. Heilman will help MA Appleseed continue its broad systemic reform initiatives focused on equity in public education and access to Massachusetts’ courts and legal system. MA Appleseed’s Board granted its current executive director Joan Meschino a temporary leave of absence while she campaigns for the Massachusetts state senate.

“Sue has a proven track record in working with boards of directors, staff teams and additional stakeholders to fulfill missions, inspire vision and meet strategic goals and objectives. We look forward to working with her in this interim period,” said Board chair Martha Mazzone. “We want to thank Joan for her deep commitment to MA Appleseed and her outstanding service in support of this Commonwealth’s most vulnerable populations, and we wish her well in her campaign.”

“I look forward to building on a strong foundation through collaboration and my personal passion for MA Appleseed’s important mission,” said Heilman. “It’s a privilege to step into this role to assist MA Appleseed’s Board and staff in its research, policy development, community outreach, and advocacy initiatives.”

Among other things, Ms. Heilman will lead the center in its new access to justice initiative, exploring the impact that recent technological innovations could have in strengthening access to Massachusetts courts by empowering those who cannot afford to pay a lawyer.

About MA Appleseed

MA Appleseed has been instrumental in leading vital systemic reform initiatives for over 20 years. By building on its experience and expertise as a leader, a convener and a trusted research and policy resource, MA Appleseed has been a key voice in influencing policy on education, youth homelessness issues, and the courts in Massachusetts. The legal community has strongly supported MA Appleseed’s endeavors for many years, through law firm and corporate sponsorship for the MA Appleseed “Good Apple Award.” MA Appleseed awards the Good Apple each year to a corporate general counsel or leader who embodies the commitment to the ideals of justice shared by the Massachusetts legal community. The 2016 Good Apple Award will be given to Jeffrey N. Carp, Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer of State Street Corporation, on March 24, 2016. For more information, visit the MA Appleseed website, www.massappleseed.org.