Morgan Drake

The Project

Morgan (she/her/hers) advocates for the due process and access to counsel rights of detained immigrants through direct representation at the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and federal circuit courts across the country.

While immigrants are five times more likely to win relief when represented, few detained immigrants are able to access an attorney, particularly as detention in remote locations with few resources increases. Detention-related barriers to securing representation and administrative policies prioritizing rapid adjudication often result in detained immigrants’ inability to adequately present their claims. Without counsel to identify and address problematic trends on appeal, many such trends go unchallenged.

In a system where, at times, basic human rights can be dependent on immigration status, safeguarding due process and access to counsel rights for immigrants is essential – both for the individuals themselves and for advancing systemic change.

Fellowship Plans

Morgan’s project seeks to address the due process issues detained immigrants face through individual representation with a focus on systemic impact. Morgan will work with the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC)’s national partners to identify individual cases emblematic of the trends infringing on detained immigrants’ due process and access to counsel rights. Morgan will then initiate direct appeals to the BIA and federal circuit courts on these issues and provide appellate representation to these individuals. Morgan will also collaborate with NIJC’s partners to highlight these due process and access to counsel issues in detention through administrative advocacy, outreach, public campaigns, and strategic litigation.

After seeing the horrendous effects of the Trump administration’s family separation policies first-hand, I became determined to focus my legal career on pursuing systemic change in the U.S. immigration system. Basic human rights should not be dependent on immigration status.

Morgan Drake /
2022 Equal Justice Works Fellow