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BDS' Kathrine Russell receives the AILA's Pro Bono Champion Award from Jenn Durkin, Vice Chair of AILA-NY.

On Monday, June 6, Kathrine Russell, Team Leader of BDS’ Immigrant Youth & Communities Project, won the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s (AILA) Pro Bono Champion award at a ceremony held at New York Law School.

Since 2009, BDS has counseled, advised or represented more than 6,500 immigrant clients. We defend detained clients facing deportation, funded by the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP), clients identified through our criminal and family defense dockets, and clients referred from our community partners or who connected with us through community outreach clinics.

Since its launch in 2012, with funding support from the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development and the New York City Council, our Immigrant Youth and Communities Project has represented more than 1,000 young clients in their pursuit of Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), U visas, employment authorization, and other immigration benefits or removal defense. Led by Kat since 2014, the Project takes advantage of BDS’s multidisciplinary defense services, including our Adolescent Representation Team, our civil justice project, our education advocacy team, youth social workers and youth advocates.

Prior to joining BDS, Kathrine spent two years as Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney at the New York office of Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), where she trained and mentored hundreds of attorneys working on cases of children and young people in immigration removal proceedings. Prior to KIND, Kathrine spent three years on the U.S.-Mexico border as a children’s attorney at the South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR) in Harlingen, TX, where she represented detained and non-detained children and young people in immigration court, applications to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and state court dependency proceedings.

According to the AILA:

The [Pro Bono Champion] program is designed to shine a well-deserved light on those among us who are consistently achieving and exceeding their pro bono goals, and who are tirelessly working to promote pro bono service and to further AILA’s mission “…to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.”

Congratulations, Kathrine!