The CARA Family Detention Project (or CARA) organizes pro bono legal services for migrants who have entered the United States without permission and are seeking asylum, especially in family units. It is jointly operated by four organizations that individually advocate for liberalized U.S. immigration policy and/or provide free legal assistance to legal and illegal immigrants. At least three of these four organizations receive significant funding from (or otherwise have financial associations with) the Foundation to Promote Open Society (founded by left-wing billionaire George Soros), and other large foundations with a history of giving six-figure annual donations to left-learning organizations.
CARA was created in response to the 2014 decision by the Obama administration to create detention facilities to house families and other residents of Central America who were entering the United States without permission and seeking asylum. Its activity and the funding of its participating members has increased substantially since the election of President Donald Trump and the continued flow of asylum seekers entering the United States.
Since 2015, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLIN), the American Immigration Council (AIC), the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) have jointly operated the CARA Family Detention Project (CARA), an initiative that provides pro-bono legal services to families that have entered the United States without permission and are seeking asylum. “CARA” is an acronym representing the first letter of the names of the four participating organizations.
In the second half of 2014, responding to a surge of families from Central America coming into the United States to claim refugee status, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, under the administration of President Barack Obama, began a policy of putting the families into detention centers located in several states. In addition to providing a location to house persons who had entered the country without permission, another objective of the policy of detaining them was to deter other Central Americans from making the journey.
From July-December 2014, lawyers providing representation pro bono (along with other volunteers) began working weekly shifts at a detention center in Artesia, New Mexico. The lawyers cycling out after a week would hand off their cases to those coming in, a system that became known as “lawyer camp” to some participants. The Artesia project, organized by AILA and its public policy affiliate AIC, resulted in the deployment of hundreds of volunteers. A smaller effort during the same period, started by a law professor volunteering at a detention facility in Karnes, Texas, was eventually assisted by RAICES.
Hoping to both formalize and replicate this model for all family detention centers in the future, AILA, AIC, and RAICES – along with the participation of CLIN – launched the CARA Family Detention Project.
Beyond the details known regarding its participating partners, the degree of formal legal structure and tax status of CARA is not clear.
Catholic Legal Immigration Network
The Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLIN) is a left-of-center immigration advocacy organization founded in 1988 by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Nearly $2.3 million of its $8.9 million in revenue for 2015 came from five large left-leaning foundation donors: the Foundation to Promote Open Society (founded by left-wing billionaire George Soros), the Ford Foundation, Unbound Philanthropy, the Public Welfare Foundation, and the labor union Unite Here.
American Immigration Lawyers Association
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is a membership association of lawyers who represent immigrants in disputes with U.S. immigration authorities. Its 2015 federal tax filings show nearly $14.6 million total revenue, with $5.4 million coming from membership dues and $4.8 million from conferences and other services provided to the membership. It is the parent organization of the American Immigration Council (AIC), providing $258.909 in cash grants to AIC in 2015 and another $72,341 in donated staff time.
American Immigration Council
A public policy subsidiary of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the American Immigration Council (AIC) is an advocacy group that promotes expanded legal immigration and legal status for some illegal immigrant populations. It engages in strategic lawsuits that advance its policy objectives (such as suing the U.S. government to obtain faster hearings for asylum seekers), produces policy documents that promote its agenda (such as a report arguing legal status for undocumented residents would boost U.S. job growth), and sponsors foreign applicants who wish to come to the U.S. for internships and job training with U.S.-based businesses. Of the $4 million in revenue it took in for 2015, more than $700,000 came from its parent organization, AILA, and three large left-leaning foundations: the Foundation to Promote Open Society, the Ford Foundation, and Unbound Philanthropy.
Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services
The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides free legal representation in Texas to migrants needing immigration law assistance. For 2017 RAICES claims to have closed 51,000 pro-bono immigration and refugee status cases. In its 2016 federal tax filings RAICES reported total revenue of $7 million, but an online fundraising effort during the summer of 2018 claimed to have raised more than $20 million from 500,000 donors. RAICES has grown considerably in recent years: Its 2011 federal tax filings reported total revenue of just over $480,000, with expenses of nearly $675,000 and a deficit of almost $195,000.