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BOSTON � About 80 attorneys gathered in Boston for a quick and dirty immigration law lesson this week as part of a coordinated pro bono push to help immigrants detained during a mass immigration raid at a Massachusetts clothing factory earlier this month. More than 300 undocumented immigrants were arrested on the March 6 raid of the Michael Bianco Inc. clothing factory, with about 178 shipped to detention centers in Texas. Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo of Boston hosted the gathering, which included both small and large firm lawyers, corporate lawyers, business litigators, non-profit attorneys and Harvard Law School students. About a half-dozen national firms signed up for the training: Bingham McCutchen; Dechert; Foley & Lardner; Holland & Knight; Nixon Peabody; and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr. Boston-based firms that expressed interest included: Brickley, Sears & Sorett; Brown Rudnick Berlack Israels; Chin & Curtis; Choate, Hall & Stewart; Foley Hoag; Nutter McClennen & Fish; Ropes & Gray; and Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen. Political Asylum/Immigration Representation Project of Boston (PAIR), a non-profit association that is serving as a clearinghouse for the pro bono lawyers, was founded in the wake of a 1988 raid of the Suffolk Downs horseracing track. That raid netted 83 Salvadorans and Guatemalans, said Mintz member Susan Cohen, who managers the firm’s immigration section and sits on PAIR’s board. After the current raid lawyers at Mintz and outside the firms started asking PAIR how they could help, Cohen said. “As soon as the raid occurred, a number of community organizations started rallying, including many large firms and small firms and solos,” Cohen said. “It made sense to invite PAIR here to host a meeting.” With the help of donations for local foundations, Lynn, Mass.-based immigrant services agency La Vida Inc. donated $60,000 to help PAIR with the legal work. Learning the basics The volunteer lawyers learned the basics of immigration bond hearings held at immigration court-officially the U.S. Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review. Experienced practitioners explained how to drafting a motion to schedule a bond hearing and tips on convincing a judge to set the bond at or near the minimum $1,500 dictated by the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act. Mary Holper, a detention attorney for Washington-based Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc. who works out of the Boston College Immigration and Asylum Project at Boston College Law School, advised the lawyers on how to avoid pitfalls. Holper said its critical to ask the clients “12 different ways” whether they had prior arrests in the U.S. or outside. Even if the prior case had been dismissed, it’s important to know about it and present certified docket sheets and a police report to the judge, she said. “If you fail to talk about it that will be the first thing the [government] trial attorney will bring up,” Holper said. Meanwhile, Greater Boston Legal Services, with help from lawyers from Dechert, Foley Hoag and Kaplan, O’Sullivan & Friedman of Boston, has a case in U.S. District Court representing 178 immigrants who were shipped off to Texas, including 116 shipped late the same day the case was filed. Sandoval v. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Division of the Department of Homeland Security, No. 07-10471 (D. Mass.) On March 16, Judge Richard G. Stearns denied the plaintiffs’ motion for a temporary restraining order to put a hold on the proceedings in immigration courts Texas. A hearing scheduled for March 21 will determine whether the judge has jurisdiction over the immigrants’ cases. “It’s a basic fact that if you’re able to schedule a bond hearing in your own community, you have a better chance,” said Nancy Kelly, managing attorney of the immigration unit at Greater Boston Legal Services. The Boston U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment on the case. After the training, Brown Rudnick litigation partner Cheryl Pinarchick, who also sits on the board of Brown Rudnick’s Charitable Foundation Corp., said the impact on the immigrants’ families “struck a chord” with her. “A lot of families were broken up by the way the raid was handled,” Pinarchick said. “I’m a commercial litigator by trade, but I’m also a mom.” Environmental litigator Christine R. Williams, an associate at Boston’s Foley Hoag, said she wants to use her skills to be helpful to the detainees. “I’m infuriated by the way people have been treated and criminalized,” Williams said.

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