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Paralegal, Adult Detention Project

Req ID: 8019
Location: Chicago - Loop
# of Openings: 1
FT/PT: Full time
Employment Type: Regular
Salary Schedule: BU Salary
Job Notes:


National Immigrant Justice Center
Paralegal – Adult Detention Project

Program Description:

The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), a program of Heartland Alliance, provides direct legal services to, and advocates for, immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers through policy reform, impact litigation, and public education. Since its founding more than three decades ago, NIJC has been unique in blending individual client advocacy with broad-based systemic change. Headquartered in Chicago with offices in Washington, DC, Indiana and San Diego, NIJC’s team of 100+ attorneys, paralegals and professionals, along with 2,000 pro bono attorneys, is at the forefront of immigration reform.


The detention project paralegal is a member of NIJC’s detention project and is primarily responsible for conducting detention intake and providing case support (including research, case review, documentation preparation and other related tasks to support general operations and the work of staff and pro bono attorneys). The paralegal must be fluent in Spanish.  The paralegal is encouraged to seek accreditation with the Department of Justice if appropriate.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

Detention Intake & Case Screening & Case Support:

  • Conduct intake interviews with detained non-citizens and their family members
  • Present intake interviews for legal assessment
  • In coordination with the assigned attorney, conduct legal and country-conditions research to assess claims and eligibility for immigration relief
  • Manage coverage for phone intake hotline
  • Staff weekly phone intake hotline
  • Monitor and respond, as needed, to voicemails on the intake line outside of intake hours
  • Manage and respond to mail and faxes from individuals in ICE custody
  • Manage and respond to mail from non-citizens in state custody
  • Respond to referrals from community and legal organizations seeking to refer detained cases Prepare case acceptance packets and case closing letters for attorneys
  • Organize and scan closed case files
  • Prepare immigration cases for filing with attorneys:
    • Prepare affidavits and indexes; gather supporting documents
    • Conduct country research and draft country conditions sections of filings
    • Assist attorneys in preparation of pre-hearing statements


  • Participate in trainings and review legal materials to remain current on immigration law, policies, and procedures
  • Once travel to facilities resumes, participate in overnight Know Your Rights trips to detention facilities as needed, 2-3 times per year
  • Serve as a backup for conducting individual orientations at LOP facilities when additional support is needed
  • Train and supervise interns on administrative procedures and case assessment protocol
  • Any other duties as assigned.


To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • Education and/or Experience: Bachelor’s degree with demonstrated experience working with immigrants, refugees and/or asylum seekers.  At least one year of experience working with these populations preferred.
  • Language Skills: Fluency in Spanish is required. Ability to communicate articulately with internal and external audiences.
  • Certificates, Licenses, Registrations:  Must have or is able to get a current, valid IL Driver’s License.  Travel to sites around the Chicago area is required.
  • Other Qualifications: Excellent writing, editing, organizational and computer skills required.  Ability to manage multiple tasks efficiently and perform well under strict deadlines.

Physical Demands: 

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • While performing the duties of this Job, the employee is regularly required to talk or hear.
  • The employee is frequently required to stand; walk; sit use hands to finger, handle, or feel and reach with hands and arms.

Work Environment: 

The work environment characteristics described here are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • The noise level in the work environment is usually moderate.


Heartland Alliance makes all hiring and employment decisions, and operates all programs, services, and functions without regard to race, receipt of an order of protection, creed, color, age, gender, gender identity, marital or parental status, religion, ancestry, national origin, amnesty, physical or mental disability, protected veterans status, genetic information, sexual orientation, immigrant status, political affiliation or belief, use of FMLA, VESSA, military, and family military rights, ex-offender status (depending on the offense and position to be filled), unfavorable military discharge, membership in an organization whose primary purpose is the protection of civil rights or improvement of living conditions and human relations, height, weight, or HIV infection, in accord with the organization's AIDS Policy Statement of September 1987.



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Heartland Alliance requires all employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 unless Heartland has approved a medical or religious accommodation for you consistent with applicable laws and regulations.