Family Immigration Detention Clinic

In partnership with the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project and the RAICES Karnes Family Detention Pro Bono Project, students in the Family Immigration Detention Clinic provide legal support to immigrant women and children detained at the Karnes Family Immigration Detention Center (located one hour southeast of San Antonio). The vast majority of detainees at Karnes are fleeing gang or family violence, making them eligible for asylum protection. While at the detention center, students provide aid to families seeking refuge in the United States by: conducting intakes with newly arrived families, working with women and children to prepare for credible fear interviews (the first step in applying for asylum in the U.S.), drafting declarations, supporting attorneys representing clients before the Immigration Court, and conducting pre-release orientations.

Course Details

  • Credit Hours: 2
  • Maximum enrollment: 8 students (Spanish speakers given preference)
  • Course is graded pass/fail 
  • Student work at the detention center occurs over the week (M-F) of Spring Break each year. Seminar courses will be held both before and after the trip.
  • Lodging and transportation is paid for by the Judge Elmo B. Hunter Legal Center for Victims of Crimes Against Women
  • A student bar card is not required for this Clinic

Contact Information

Faculty and Staff

Natalie Nanasi
Director of the Judge Elmo B. Hunter Legal Center
for Victims of Crimes Against Women 

Eric Cedillo
Adjunct Clinical Professor of Law 

Mailing Address

SMU Dedman School of Law
P.O. Box 750116
Dallas, TX 75275-0116

Physical Address

SMU Dedman School of Law
3315 Daniel Avenue, Suite 30
Dallas, TX 75205