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Amanda Schapel, an asylum pro bono attorney from the firm of Jones Day, recently helped represent a domestic violence survivor from India who was granted asylum after escaping multiple abusive relationships. Amanda and her team were successful in demonstrating that the government in India was not adequately protecting her client from this abuse, and that she deserved to stay in the United States.

Amanda is passionate about donating her talents to asylum cases, stating, "Because I have the time and I have the resources, I should do everything I can to help out people who are less fortunate. A little bit of my time can mean their entire life." She, along with other attorneys from Jones Day, were honored for their work with the Asylum Program at our 25th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards Luncheon.

Racial Justice

Immigrant Rights

Immigrants and refugees represent some of the most vulnerable populations in California. In 1981, Lawyers' Committee launched the Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, which has become one of the leading advocacy projects in the country. Since then, we have helped to protect the civil rights of tens of thousands of low-income immigrants and refugees, according them full and fair access to education, police protection and other vital government services, and safeguarding their due process and constitutional rights.

Direct Services

For nearly 30 years, our Asylum Program has provided legal representation for refugees who have escaped persecution and torture in their native countries. Since its inception, the program has provided help to thousands of low-income refugees from over 40 countries, with an over 95% success rate. Immigrants who are granted asylum can start their lives anew and bring spouses and children abroad to safety in the U.S.

A volunteer attorney explained what is at stake in asylum cases. After the judge granted asylum in the case, the attorney said, "We are feeling good today because we helped save a life." Lawyers' Committee also hosts a variety of workshops and trainings monthly for volunteers who do asylum work. For more information about asylum cases or to become a volunteer, e-mail Dave Rorick at drorick@lccr.com. If you are seeking help with your own asylum case, click here.

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Impact Work

Lawyers' Committee champions immigrant rights through advocacy and impact litigation that covers a wide spectrum of work, including challenging abusive practices by government officials and safeguarding access to education, police protection and other vital government services. Our current projects include:

  • Shackling of Immigrant Detainees: In August 2011, the Lawyers’ Committee, ACLU of Northern California and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati filed a class action suit to challenge the blanket shackling of adult immigration detainees during appearances in San Francisco Immigration Court. The lead plaintiff is a 35-year-old domestic violence survivor and asylum-seeker who has been shackled in court, even though she has no history of violence or disruption and has plates in her knees, legs, feet, back, and head.

  • Day Labor Rights: In September 2011, the Ninth Circuit, sitting en banc, ruled in favor of day laborer groups in a precedent-setting case litigated by the Lawyers’ Committee and Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. The Ninth Circuit held that Redondo Beach’s ban on seeking work, business, or contributions in many public areas was an unconstitutional speech restriction. This is the first published federal appellate decision recognizing day laborers’ right to seek work in public spaces.

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In the Spotlight

07.18.14 - Lawyers' Committee featured in East Bay Express cover story ,"Coming Home" - an examination of reentry and realignment issues in Oakland and San Francisco, citing, among other things, our recently launched Alameda County project , which seeks to promote successful reentry by addressing the need for meaningful economic opportunity for formerly incarcerated people.

05.21.14 - "Traffic court is a judicial dead end for California's working poor" In an op-ed in the Daily Journal, Legal Director, Oren Sellstrom, describes the unreasonable challenge traffic courts pose for working class and poor people who find themselves in a maze of never ending and exorbitant debt from which they practically have no way out. The consequences of this situation can be dire, limiting many people’s ability to earn a living and participate fully in society. Also read this letter to San Francisco Superior Court about proposed changes to local traffic court rules that would exacerbate the problems and disparities described in the op-ed.  

05.13.14 - Brown v. Board of Education at 60: Examining Racial Equity in San Francisco. On Tuesday, May 13, at the California Historical Society, @ 6-8pm, join a panel of esteemed community leaders for a discussion celebrating recent achievements in San Francisco public schools, and examining the future of educational opportunity for racially diverse student populations. The program will include student reflections, and an interactive audience discussion. The event is free. Please click here to register and get event location.

03.18.14 -  HOT OFF THE PRESS! Lawyers’ Committee releases a new study, "Voting Rights Barriers and Discrimination in Twenty-First Century California: 2000-2013", based on an in-depth study of voting discrimination in California over the past 13 years, and exposes a trend in voting rights violations and disenfranchisement throughout the state. To read more, click here

02.05.14 - LCCR is pleased to announce the passage of the Fair Chance Act by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Introduced by Supervisor Jane Kim, and co-sponsored by Supervisor Malia Cohen, the Fair Chance Act will strengthen and expand the City’s current fair hiring policies, known commonly as “ban the box,” to private businesses, affordable housing, and contracting, and remove unnecessary barriers to stable housing and employment for individuals with conviction records.

01.30.14 - An historic settlement was reached on January 23, 2014, in a class action lawsuit between immigration authorities and immigrants who are held in custody during their civil immigration proceedings in San Francisco. The settlement brings an end to the federal government’s practice of forcing detained immigrants to go through their civil immigration hearings in handcuffs, leg irons, and chains.Settlement Agreement Notices Posted in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Punjabi.

01.24.14 - SAVE THE DATE -We Who Believe in Justice Cannot Wait... Celebrating 50 Years of the Civil Rights Act. Friday, January 24, 2014 - Click here for sponsorship and ticket forms.

The 27th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards Luncheon - The Westin St. Francis (on Union Square); 335 Powell Street, San Francisco, CA 94102. Reception - 11:00 a.m.; Luncheon & Program - 11:45 a.m. E-mail: mlk@lccr.com or call: 415.543.9444 x203

12.12.13 -

Please join Board Co-Chair, Pamela Y. Price, at a special holiday gathering of the membership to celebrate the accomplishments of the Lawyers' Committee.

Thursday, December 12, 2013. Price And Associates - 901 Clay Street; Oakland, CA 94607.

Wine and light hors d'oeuvres will be served. RSVP - asouza@lccr.com


11.19.13 - William Tamayo, Regional Attorney, U.S. EEOC, to give keynote address at Lawyers' Committee 45th Annual Meeting of the Membership on Tuesday, November 19, 2013, generously hosted by Latham & Watkins, LLP, 505 Montgomery Street; Suite 2000; San Francisco, CA 94111-6538. Reception - 5:30 p.m. - 6 p.m.; Program - 6 p.m. - 7 p.m.

RSVP: asouza@lccr.com

11.08.13 - Immigrant Rights ARE Civil Rights! The current issue of Clearinghouse Review - Journal of Poverty Law and Policy features "Closing the Gap in Understanding Immigrant Rights as Civil Rights", by authors Cecilia Chen, Thurgood Marshall Fellow, and Robin Goldfaden, Senior Attorney, Immigrant Justice, who chronicle the history of immigration in the United States and underscore how the struggle for immigrant rights has always been a struggle for civil rights.