Pro bono Volunteers Mobilize to Assist Immigrants at Airports with Legal Questions and to Staff the California Justice Bus, Courtesy of One Justice.

By: Jason Dominguez

What’s the funnest thing you can imagine? Pro bono legal work! What is more fun than that? Pro bono legal work on a bus?

In Northern California, approximately four hundred local pro bono volunteers have been meeting at the San Francisco airport to assist travelers who have been impacted by recent changes in immigration policy. Numerous travelers have been forced to undergo significant delays in flight times, and the worst impacted have been denied entry and forced to return to their county of departure. Families have been split up and forced to travel separately or wait in a holding pattern. Many students, for example, who were returning to the US for the new school term after time spent abroad were prevented from returning to their university. The University of California system has 698 students from countries affected by the ban. Many individuals, corporations, and government agencies have instituted legal action to overturn the recent travel ban. In the meantime, these pro bono volunteers are helping returning residents try to legally re-enter the country.

One Justice is a non-profit that unites lawyers, non-profits and law students to provide critical legal services to underserved Californians. Founded in 1979, it has offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles, but through its Justice Bus program is able to serve people around the state and far from urban centers. Per a recent press release, “The mission of the Justice Bus Project is to increase the capacity of legal service providers and community based organizations serving isolated and vulnerable populations throughout the state. In the past year alone, the Justice Bus Project has organized free legal clinics in 24 counties throughout California and partnered with over 30 community based organizations to coordinate legal services for more than 1,000 low-income individuals.” Today, the Justice Bus is providing service with pro bono legal volunteers and students at Westmont College on the central coast of California. They are working with undergraduates and helping local residents with critical, immediate needs.

The Justice Bus Project

“The Justice Bus Project takes teams of attorney and law student volunteers from urban areas to set up free legal clinics for low-income Californians living in rural and isolated communities.  These clinics provide life-changing legal assistance to low-income veterans, vulnerable seniors, children with disabilities, low-wage workers, immigrant youth, and families.”

In 2016, the Justice Bus Project conducted 56 trips throughout the state, bringing life-changing legal assistance to over 1,030 Californians in need, engaging over 640 volunteers from law schools, law firms, and in-house legal departments.

justicebus-map

Visit the One Justice website here to see how you can get involved!

Jason Dominguez serves on the City Council of Santa Barbara. He founded the Justice Center of Santa Barbara, and has worked for the Legal Aid Foundation (Executive Director), California Rural Legal Assistance (Director, Community Equity Initiative), United Nations International Criminal Tribunal (Legal Officer), Santa Barbara County Counsel, Deputy City Attorney and Deputy District Attorney (Los Angeles). Jason has performed community service for multiple agencies, including Leadership Santa Barbara County and Worth Street Reach (board member) and is a board member on the American Bar Association Standing Committee for Pro Bono and Public Service.
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