Natalie Cadwalader-Schultheis

  • Hosted by ABA South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR)
  • Sponsored by Texas Access to Justice Foundation
  • Service location Harlingen, Texas
  • Law school University of California, Berkeley School of Law
  • Issue area Immigrant Populations
  • Fellowship class year 2017
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Natalie represented transition-age youth in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention, worked with pro bono attorneys to improve transition-age youth’s access to immigration legal services, and developed best practices and legal orientation materials for attorneys working with this population.

Youth are far too often improperly transferred from Office of Refugee Resettlement to ICE custody upon reaching the age of 18, when government officials do not apply the protections afforded to them under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. Children are also illegally held in ICE custody with adults when government officials use improper means, such as false or misleading evidence or unlawful threats of criminal prosecution unless a minor confesses to being an adult. The sheer volume of these illegal transfers requires advocates to establish systems to track transfers of youth to ICE detention and create best practices protocols for contesting the detention of children with adult detainees.

Fellowship Highlights

In the past two years, Natalie has:

  • Conducted over 90 workshops on bond and master calendar hearings for young adults in ICE detention
  • Provided full representation to 25 clients and brief services and advice to an additional 19 individuals
  • Created an internal referral system to track the transfer of minors to adult detention that allows ProBAR to quickly identify youth unlawfully placed in ICE custody
  • Successfully convinced the government to pause the use of dental exams to re-determine the age of unaccompanied children in the busiest border patrol sector
  • Collaborated with other legal service providers to establish best practices to discredit unlawful and unscientific evidence and to contest improper age assessments performed on immigrant juveniles in government custody

What’s Next

Now that the Fellowship is complete, Natalie plans to continue advocating for non-citizens in immigration proceedings in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Natalie will collaborate with private and non-profit immigration attorneys and community activists to respond to the ever increasing attacks on asylum. Natalie looks forward to working with local leaders to engage advocates to adopt human rights frameworks to defend their communities.

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