Dilley Pro Bono Project


The Dilley Pro Bono Project (DPBP) operates a non-traditional pro bono model of legal services that directly represents immigrant mothers and children detained at the 2,400-bed South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas. The vast majority of families detained here are fleeing extreme violence in Central America and elsewhere and are seeking asylum in the United States.

DPBP organizes volunteer teams for each week. DPBP asks volunteers to commit to a Sunday-to-Friday work schedule and to arrive Sunday evening for a mandatory on-the-ground orientation meeting. After an exhilarating week, the team leaves the following Saturday, and a new team arrives to take over the caseload and carry the work forward.

DPBP is only able to uphold its promise to provide legal counsel with the help of volunteers who are flexible, willing to step outside their comfort zone, and dedicated to working long and difficult hours (12-15-hour days, full of physically and emotionally exhausting work). During the course of the week, volunteers will report to On-the-Ground staff, taking on a variety of tasks ranging from data entry and scanning to preparing clients for Credible and Reasonable Fear Interviews. Prospective volunteers should note that things On-the-Ground can change rapidly and there may be a need to be flexible and take on different types of works. The Dilley volunteer experience is life changing and you will be working as an integral part of the On-the-Ground team.


Please send the signed forms to Mackenzie Levy at volunteer@caraprobono.org. Volunteers to the South Texas Residential Center must receive a clearance from ICE to enter the facility. ICE requires that our Volunteer Coordinator give them certain information to obtain these clearances. All volunteers must send Mackenzie a copy of a government issued photo ID. If you are an attorney, please also send a copy of your bar card. If you do not have a physical bar card, please send the state in which you are barred and your bar number. If you are a non-attorney please send your social security number.

Guides for Local Practice

Secondary Trauma

As a volunteer in Dilley, you will likely sit in on credible fear interview preparations and maybe the actual credible fear or reasonable fear interviews with asylum officers. You will hear these women’s stories and often they have experienced extreme cruelty and violence. They may provide accounts of: interactions with gangs; abuse from partners, family members, or acquaintances; their fear for their children; and rape and sexual assault among other things. It’s important to keep in mind that there is such a thing as secondhand trauma, which results from being exposed to the traumatic experiences of others. We encourage you to listen to the podcast below from the American Immigration Lawyers Association regarding secondhand trauma. You might listen to it on your drive from San Antonio to Dilley or on the airplane. We want all our volunteers to take care of themselves and process any major emotions that may come up when hearing these traumatic experiences.