b'CARRYING THE TORCH FOR FREEDOM(continued)traumatic memories so explicitly with the interviewers to increasebe detained in a prison facility for weeks, months and, now, even their chances of passing the credible fear interview. When you haveover a year I felt like we owed it to these brave moms to keep children crying as they watch their mother go through somethinggetting up every day and fighting for them. And we owed it to the very traumatic, it becomes very dicult. In some cases, I didntincredibly dedicated full-time staff at Dilley to try to help in any speak the clients language, so I would need to call a translator. way we could. And I owe it to myself to continue to try to help, after Q: Tellmeabitabouthandlingimmigrationjudgeappealsforthat experience, to continue to make a difference and try to keep applicants who didnt prevail in the credible fear interviews. fighting for more humane immigration policies.Sue: \x03efore we went there, many of the same judges would conductQ:What was most difficult for you?hearings in person or remotely, so the volunteers would have aSue: One mom had a brutal story of domestic violence, as did her sense of what a judge might do. The week before we went down,daughter the judge ruled against them. Instead of acknowledging the government changed its policy, ostensibly to address the hugeinanywaythelikelydeathsentenceshehadjustinflictedon backlog of appeals. They had different judges cycle in every day, andthis mother and child, the judge instead turned to me from the all were on video. There was no institutional memory of what thevideo screen and said, Thank you so much for volunteering your judges were like, and so you had to go into court not knowing whattime here at Dilley. ave a safe trip home, and have a wonderful the most effective strategies might be. \x08iven that it is discretionaryChristmas. Meanwhile, it was hard to hear her because my client whether to allow the lawyers to speak in these proceedings, most ofand her daughter had crumpled to the floor of the courtroom, and the judges would not even let me speak, and even those that gave meboth were wailing uncontrollably. I kept the sound on so that the an opportunity to summarize invariably upheld the negative rulingjudge could experience their raw pain. It was hard to process all of from the initial interview. Ive never felt so powerless as a lawyerthis, and even harder later to try to explain to the clients what had going into court every day and really not prevailing. I had five orjust happened. They thought they had a strong case. Why hadnt the six hearings a day. I only won one hearing. One other victory wasjudge listened Why didnt I speak for them as their lawyer What that I was able to get a postponement when the judge was goingwere they to do The mother and daughter were likely deported the to force the mom, my client, to go forward with the hearing in anext morning. language she didnt understand. I argued that this was a violationEduardo: The most challenging experience I had was with working of my clients due process. The judge still tried to coerce my clientwithaclientwhospoke\x11ortuguese.Wehadthetranslatoron to go forward, saying that she would be forced to stay in detentionspeakerphone, but my clients child hadnt eaten, it waspm, for a long time to wait for an interpreter or she could just goand the child was crying. My client was struggling to hear due forward today.tothebadconnection,andtheinterpreterwashavingtrouble Eduardo: When we were prepping them, some women were stillhearing what I was saying because the child was crying. My client optimistic, but others seemed very dispirited, very discouraged. Itstarted sobbing and said, I cant do it. Im so sorry. I cant do it. felt like fighting a losing war, but at the same time, had volunteersAnd I had to tell the translator, Im so sorry. I dont think we can not been there helping to prepare these mothers, they would becontinue today.goinginwithoutanylegalcounselwhatsoever.TheyneededaQ:Have you worked with Proyecto Dilley since that week?fighting chance. Sue: I left feeling so dispirited about the state of our immigrationSue: Mintz has continued to work periodically with the legal team system, but it certainly made me, on the positive side, continue tothere on more systemic litigation, helping them and other family fight the good fight. Can you imagine moms who have lived withdetention prisons with background research. After our visit, there domestic violence, or torture, or rape, or gang violence, or politicalwas no other response but to continue to use the resources of the suppression, and are so desperate that they risk it all and leavefirm to help in any way we could.their home countries with nothing but their children And, then, they finally make it to the United States after horrific journeys, toThe interview has been edited for length and clarity.30 2020'