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Asylum Law Conference 2019

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On August 15 and 16, the International Rescue Committee in Denver hosted an Asylum Law Conference at the University of Colorado Law School in Boulder. The two-day event was organized in partnership with the IRC, the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network (RMIAN), and the Asylum Committee of the Colorado chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), and offered 85 attendees an in-depth look into the ever-changing asylum laws in this country.

Asylum Law Conference hosted by the IRC in Denver. Photo: Sarah Moore

The conference aimed to shed light on the significance of asylum law and offered invaluable information from lawyers who are currently working within the immigration system or who are interested in helping with the current humanitarian crisis at the southern border by fighting for clients seeking asylum. Through a series of panels, 22 speakers discussed a wide range of topics including completing and filing the asylum application, bars to asylum, the Convention Against Torture, asylum seekers in detention, trauma-informed representation, and ethical issues that arise in asylum cases.

60 attorneys from across the state of Colorado agreed to offer pro bono services to asylum seekers through the IRC or the other sponsoring organizations including representation for clients through the IRC in Denver’s Survivors of Torture (SOT) Program.* Due to stricter asylum requirements and rapidly changing legislation, the IRC believes that keeping lawyers well-informed is paramount to building their capacity to best represent their clients. “We are thrilled at the turnout of so many attorneys eager to take on representation in these cases,” said Brea Burgie, Legal Program Director at the IRC in Denver. "This conference is a chance for us to dramatically increase the representation of those seeking asylum before the Asylum Office and Immigration Courts in Denver, giving many more individuals who are fleeing persecution in their home country a chance for safety in the United States.”

*In 2018, the IRC in Denver received funding from the Office of Refugee Resettlement to launch its Survivors of Torture Program (SOT). Through this program, IRC is creating a robust network of providers to ensure that survivors of torture have access to the support and resources they need to heal and recover from the effects of torture. The program fills critical gaps in services for survivors who are lacking legal status or find their legal status in jeopardy—a highly vulnerable population for which local community resources are woefully insufficient. IRC’s legal services focus on providing pro or low bono legal representation for non-detained torture survivors. In-house legal services are integrated with case management and psychosocial support.