The Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network (RMIAN) serves low-income adults and children in immigration proceedings. RMIAN promotes knowledge of legal rights, provides effective representation to ensure due process, works to improve detention conditions, and promotes a more humane immigration system, including alternatives to detention.
Individuals, children, and families going through high-stakes immigration proceedings do not have the right to court-appointed counsel. In Colorado, approximately 90% of detained individuals at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in Aurora do not have a lawyer despite empirical studies showing that detained individuals with lawyers are over ten times more likely to win their cases than those without. In the first half of 2019, the Aurora facility expanded by over 50% and this already alarming rate has likely lowered. Equally shocking, over half of unaccompanied children before the Denver Immigration Court do not have a lawyer. RMIAN exists to fight these grave injustices.
Founded as a nonprofit organization in 2000, RMIAN provides free and culturally relevant immigration legal services to adults in civil immigration detention, as well as to children and families throughout Colorado.
In 2003, RMIAN was selected to pilot the now-nationally recognized Legal Orientation Program at the Aurora immigration detention center, where RMIAN staff members continue to have a daily presence conducting "Know Your Rights" presentations, individual orientations, and self-help workshops to detained individuals.
While working in the detention context, RMIAN identified the critical needs of children in immigration legal proceedings who had fled persecution and other forms of violence in their home countries and who were often unaware of relief mechanisms available to them. Seeing another vastly unmet need, RMIAN launched its Children's Program in 2005 to provide free legal services to immigrant children, as well as to provide technical assistance to child welfare professionals.
To provide further support to the individuals held in the immigration detention center, RMIAN's Social Service Project (SSP) offers vital social services to detained immigrants who have survived crimes, experience difficulty being isolated from their families, or suffer from mental illness. Finally, the Human Trafficking Project provides support to the Children's Program and the Detention Program by screening clients for trafficking indicators and seeking appropriate immigration relief and protection accordingly.
Equipped with nearly two decades of experience and nationally recognized expertise, RMIAN endeavors to ensure access to justice for all by providing free immigration legal services to adults detained at the Aurora Immigration Detention Center and to non-detained children and families throughout Colorado, in pursuit of a world where every person going through high-stakes immigration proceedings has legal counsel by their side.
"The contribution that Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network has granted me thoroughly impacted my life in many positive manners. Firstly, the organization was thorough and communication was wonderful. My journey to becoming a U.S. citizen was accompanied by Ashley Harrington, and my success would not have been possible without her. Her commitments to helping me pursue my end goal and especially understanding my purpose to become a U.S. citizen never faltered. Truly, I thank the RMIAN for all the work and contributions to helping me become a U.S. citizen. Without their help, my safety would certainly be diminished."
~ Felix Chaniago, Children's Program client
"In 2019, Felix's dream of US Citizenship became a reality and, last week, he began the adventure of a lifetime as he has started his freshman year at Colorado Christian University on a full-ride scholarship. We are profoundly grateful for RMIAN's unwavering commitment to Felix's legal case and the generosity of RMIAN donors! Thank you!"
~ Felix's Colorado Foster Parents
"RMIAN helped me obtain my residency for the United States as a student on a path for college. Being an undocumented immigrant draws an imaginary, but harsh boundary on your dreams. My dream to become a doctor - my whole life abruptly stopped my senior year in high school. RMIAN not only helped erased the boundary, but returned the hope I had lost to become a doctor. RMIAN completely changed my life."
~ RMIAN Client, Children's Program
"I have loved working with RMIAN because the work that RMIAN does provides a segment of our society, that is so often forgotten or abused, hope; hope that they can become open contributing members of our society, hope that they can become self-sufficient and support their families, hope that they can come out of the shadows and realize their potential."
~ Volunteer Attorney, Children's Program
"Helping RMIAN provide pro bono service in the Aurora ICE/GEO Detention Facility to the victims of extraordinary gang and domestic violence in Mexico and Central America, or victims of severe political persecution in Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, has been the most rewarding and emotionally satisfying work of my 39 years of practice. I highly recommend to lawyers and other professionals who have felt helpless in the face of current events regarding the treatment of immigrants, and who want to ensure due process, improve detention conditions and promote a more humane immigration system, that they contact RMIAN about pro bono opportunities, as well as ask how they can financially support this work to help safeguard human rights in America."
~ Terry Turner, Volunteer Attorney, Detention Program
"RMIAN helped me at a time when my life was in pieces, when I was at my lowest, in an immigration detention center. They gave me hope the day I was released from the detention center and I was able to see my children and family after two long months. That was truly the happiest day in my life. By helping me become a legal permanent resident in the United States, RMIAN gave me a sense of belonging and security. I now have restored faith in myself and have been able to do more and go further than what I initially believed."
~ RMIAN Client, Detention Program
"I just finished off my first semester in Boulder and I can't thank you and RMIAN enough for all that has been done. This organization has helped me get one step closer (an enormous step) towards achieving my short and long-term goals in life. It has also helped me open the doors to college because I have financial support from the government. I still remember that day when I received a letter from USCIS stating that I had been approved for permanent residency; it is definitely one of my favorite moments. This chapter in my life would not have been written if it weren't for RMIAN and I am truly blessed to have been able to meet people who are as dedicated and as helpful as RMIAN. It just goes to show that when the chips are down keep your head up because there is always hope. Thank you again and again!"
~ RMIAN Client, Children's Program
"Imagine risking everything to get to a safe place only to be faced with the possibility of being sent home because you don't know have the knowledge or expertise to navigate a complex immigration system in a foreign language. Day after day we hear about so many people coming to the United States because they fear for their lives in their native country. As individuals we can often feel helpless in the face of so much need. But we aren't helpless. Right here in Colorado, RMIAN is an amazing organization that is guiding immigrants through the complex process of seeking asylum in the United States. We can support immigrants on their journey to safety and stability by financially supporting RMIAN's work. I am grateful that this team of dedicated professionals have committed their time and effort for such a worthy cause and so glad that I can support that cause by donating to RMIAN."
~ Sharie Mendrey, RMIAN Donor