One of the more unusual aspects
of REFUGIO is the fact that it has its own law office. Refugees without significant
financial resources in the United States who fear persecution in their home countries,
and who have demonstrated their willingness to lend their talents and energies to the
development of the camp, may apply for admission to the legal process. Most
commonly, such persons continue their journey northward, once their cases reach a
point where this is possible, and seek new counsel where they relocate.
In addition to processing asylum claims for individual refugees, the law office
provides all newcomers with a general orientation in the law as it affects refugees
and other immigrants, so that they may make informed decisions as to what is best for them.
The law office also undertakes a wide variety of cases on behalf of immigrants in general,
and has brought a number of challenges to some of the more repressive
aspects of the 1996 amendments to the immigration laws. Recently, the law office won a
series of over thirty petitions for habeas corpus for long-term lawful permanent residents
who were threatened with deportation on the basis of the retroactive application of
certain provisions of the 1996 legislation. The Immigration and
Naturalization Service has appealed these decisions, which must now be defended at the
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.