Managing Partner David Kolko was honored by the American Immigration Lawyers Association ("AILA"), along with a host of other volunteer attorneys, for his efforts in coordinating pro bono efforts to respond to the humanitarian crisis along our southern border. AILA recognized 16 attorneys, largely based in Colorado, for being "First Responders" and coordinating immediate leal help for volunteer attorneys in Artesia, New Mexico. Their main goal is to provide legal assistance to women and children refugees arriving in the United States, and fleeing persecution in Central America. David, in his capacity as Chapter Chair of the AILA Colorado Chapter, helped provide needed structure and coordination for attorneys traveling to Artesia to meet with refugees.
AILA's announcement is copied below and also available at http://www.aila.org/content/default.aspx?docid=50444.
AILA Announces Pro Bono Heroes Honorees for the Third Quarter of 2014
Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 14102048 (posted Oct. 22, 2014)"
AILA is pleased to announce the most recent recipients of the "Pro Bono Heroes" quarterly awards. For the Third Quarter of 2014, the AILA National Pro Bono Services Committee decided to take a break from the regular nomination criteria in order to recognize a special group of individuals whom we have affectionately named the "Artesia First Responders."
As the family detention situation in Artesia began reaching the level of what can only be called a humanitarian crisis involving Central American mothers and children, a small group of AILA members were the first to set foot on the ground (or "OTG" by its acronym) in order to attempt to restore basic access to justice/due process for these refugees, and to provide pro bono immigration legal services to the extent possible, despite varying levels and methods of institutional resistance. This group of "First Responders" was OTG beginning in mid-July. They were the original "guerilla lawyers" of Artesia. Over the next few weeks, these heroes and others began to introduce and implement what has now become an amazing grassroots pro bono effort providing legal assistance to these families in dire need. Doing so at their own personal expense, leaving practice and family behind, this group became the lynchpin of the Artesia Pro Bono Project's growth.
Since that time, AILA members have rallied, organized, donated, and continued to volunteer their time, energy and resources to the Artesia Pro Bono Project. There is no way that we can thank each and every one of them, however we have chosen to show our appreciation for this small group that can only be referred to as project trailblazers, or "first responders," for setting the tone for what has now become a structured pro bono, fundraising and nationwide legal advocacy movement. This is the group which we have chosen to represent the many members who have contributed so very much to this effort and so, we ask that you join us in congratulating the following "Artesia First Responders" as this quarter's AILA Pro Bono Heroes:
Yesenia Bargas Ramirez
David Kolko, pictured with fellow Honoree, Shelley Wittevrongel, at the AILA Colorado 3rd Annual Rocky Mountain Immigration Law Conference, October 2014.