Holper Honored for Immigration Work
response to new bedford raid recognized
The National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild has awarded the annual Daniel Levy Award to the team of attorneys and advocates who responded to the March 2007 immigration raid on the Michael Bianco factory in New Beford. Mary Holper, supervising attorney for the Boston College Immigration and Asylum Project, will receive this award as a member of the team.
In the early March raid, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested 361 people, most of whom were women. ICE released only 25 of the women that day, and approximately 25 the following day. All of the others were taken to Fort Devens, Massachusetts, for temporary detention at a decommissioned military fort, where a group of attorneys and paralegals spent long nights meeting with the detainees.
At the same time, ICE loaded detainees onto buses, then flew them across the country. Many of the detainees were transferred to facilities in south Texas, where they were far from their families, communities, and the fleet of pro bono lawyers who were willing to represent the detainees in their immigration hearings. A group of immigration lawyers filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Massachusetts to prevent this transfer. However, as papers for the lawsuit were being prepared and filed, ICE moved the last of the 200 detainees out of Massachusetts, where the federal district court would lose jurisdiction over them. This case is currently on appeal to the First Circuit.
Holper interviewed detainees at Fort Devens in the immediate aftermath of the raids. She mentored the pro bono lawyers and trained them on how to represent their clients before the immigration judges to secure their clients’ release on bond. She also coordinated translators for the pro bono lawyers byappealing to Boston College
students whom she knew spoke Spanish. Together with BC Law Professor Daniel Kanstroom, she coordinated students in the Advanced Immigration Seminar to write legal memoranda in support of motions to terminate the detainees’ immigration cases based on Fourth and Fifth Amendment violations during the raid.