1-Hour Program

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Proving facts and providing documentary evidence to support asylum claims in the United State is essential to building a winnable case for our clients. Unfortunately, most people fleeing persecution do so without the time, means, or wherewithal that it takes to collect necessary documents that will help them in their legal plight. Once they reach U.S. soil, these items become nearly impossible to obtain without the support of someone on the ground in the home country. Understanding the various processes and requirements for procuring things like civil registry documents, criminal records, and medical files as well as for securing remote testimony for foreign witnesses is imperative for advocates working to make justice a reality across borders. 

This Briefing will cover transnational issues that frequently come up when attempting to collect such evidence from a client’s country of origin.  Among other things, we will cover how to obtain birth, death, and marriage certificates; obtaining court and police records; and setting up legally sound remote depositions, declarations, and testimony. The discussion will focus specifically on Central America and Mexico and address:

• Overview of Presentation and Introduction to What is Portable Justice (5 minutes)
• Documentary Evidence (35 minutes)
a. Civil Registry Documents 
i. What is the process and cost of obtaining birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates or other civil registry documents? 
o What exactly is this “folio” copy of birth certificates that USCIS requires for Honduran clients and how are they different from other versions? 
ii. Is there a centralized/national database or is it necessary to make the requests directly where the registration took place?
iii. What is the process for amending birth certificates?
iv. What to do in case no registration exists
b. Criminal Records 
i. What is the process for requesting/obtaining criminal records from the courts? 
ii. How does one get federal proof of no criminal record?
iii. What is the process for requesting/obtaining police records? 
iv. Who can make these requests? 
c. Powers of Attorney 
i. What are the requirements for a power of attorney and what needs to be included? 
ii. Notaries: What is their function and role in each of the countries covered? 
iii. Any exceptions or workarounds when obtaining a power of attorney is not possible or exceptionally cumbersome? 
• Fact Investigation, In-Person Declarations, and Other Evidence Collecting in Different Political Environments (5 minutes)  
• Remote Testimony and Depositions (15 minutes) 
d. Executive Office for Immigration Review 
i. Rules and process for requesting remote testimony in immigration court 
ii. Special concerns to consider in setting up transnational remote testimony
e. Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
i. Rules and process for requesting remote testimony in Federal court 
ii. Special concerns to consider in setting up transnational remote testimony and/or depositions

Who Should Attend:  Legal aid and legal services advocates, nonprofit lawyers, pro bono attorneys and allied professionals interested in better understanding the issues surrounding portable justice in protection cases
Program Level: Update
Prerequisites: None
Advanced Preparation: None

Martha Menendez
Justice in Motion

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