Volunteer Report From the Migrant Caravan

On November 8, 2018, attorney Nancy Arevalo responded to a call for Spanish-speaking immigration attorneys willing to travel to Mexico to provide legal help to refugees traveling with the migrant caravan.

Just two days later, with support from the L4GG (Lawyers for Good Government) Foundation’s travel fund, Nancy was on a flight to Queratoro, Mexico. We asked Nancy to share what she experienced in her own words, which are excerpted below. All photos and videos below are courtesy of Nancy Arevalo.

4 lawyers, 5,000 refugees, 19 hour days

I arrived at midnight on Saturday the 10th and met the other three U.S. immigration attorney volunteers whom I was going to work with for the weekend - Rebecca, Charlene, and Graham. That was the entire legal team for those days for over 5,000 people in the caravan.

Volunteer legal team.jpg

The four of us slept in a camper van that night, right outside the cold Corregidora stadium in Queretaro, where the caravan refugees were spending the night.

Everyone woke up at 4 a.m., started packing the belongings they could carry with them, and began walking by 5 a.m. Our team of lawyers started the day with all of them, passing out bread, water, toilet paper and other small donations that we had. We wore our bright orange “Preguntame del Asilo” (“Ask Me About Asylum”) hats, made signs, and told everyone passing by that we were attorneys and would be talking about asylum in the U.S. as soon as they arrived at their next stop, Irapuato.


We loaded our van with blankets people were leaving behind because they could not carry more stuff, and other heavy items a few people could not carry with them and asked us to take for them. We also had room to give a ride to a few people so we took a mother with her baby and her four adorable daughters. Our van was fully packed, and we were out of Queretaro by 7 a.m.


On our drive to Irapuato in the state of Guanajuato, we saw thousands of people walking and trying to get rides to the next location. That was about 70 miles that they had to cover that day. It took us about two hours to drive there.

Video credit: Nancy Arevalo

Once we arrived in Irapuato, we quickly begin setting up and talking to people who were lucky to get rides there. They were going to spend the night there at Centro DIF Irapuato, which the state of Guanajuato had prepared to welcome the caravan for one night.

As the immigrants slowly started arriving, we noticed their exhaustion, their broken strollers, their worn out shoes and bare feet, and their hunger, among other things.

Nonetheless, they also seemed happy to have made it to the next location.

Preguntame del Asilo - Ask Me About Asylum

People got in lines for food and other basic donations. At first, they were not too interested in hearing attorneys talk. As they began to settle, I grabbed a megaphone and strategically went around the facility to talk to people who were gathered in large groups.

I talked to them about what to expect when they got to the border, what asylum is, how they could ask for asylum in the US, and that they would likely be detained for a long time in the US.

Most people did not know this basic information about asylum so these big group presentations were useful in getting the word out.

After each presentation, people waited around to ask me questions. Some of these were more like mini-consultations with no privacy at all. I heard many horror stories of what they had suffered in their home countries. I tried to answer as many questions as possible and briefly prepped them for what to expect in their credible fear interviews.

I did this nonstop until 10:30 p.m. that night. By the end of the day, I was definitely recognized as “la abogada” and people were stopping me to ask more and more questions.

This was about a 19-hour day and we had to wake up at 4 a.m. the next day again because the caravan was moving on to Guadalajara. Our team of four attorneys barely had time to eat, definitely did not shower, and we slept in the camper van again, right at DIF Irapuato’s parking lot with the refugees.

I talked to over one hundred people that day and my voice was almost gone by then.
Caravan moving.jpg

The next morning, once again at 4 a.m., the refugee caravan got ready and started walking again. We passed out some donations again. Some people recognized us from the day before, hugged us, and thanked us. We wished them luck. We could not continue following the caravan to Guadalajara, so instead, Rebecca and I decided to drop off more donations at Casa del Migrante Manos Extendidas in Celeya, which is about an hour and half from where we were in Irapuato.

The majority of the people that I personally spoke to had valid asylum claims, so explaining to them how to navigate the process was a huge accomplishment.

There were more immigrants there who were traveling alone and had stopped there for food and to rest before continuing their journeys. I gave another presentation to about 30 more people and answered many more questions. Then, we headed to San Miguel de Allende where one of Rebecca’s friends was kind enough to host me for the night. I came back to the US the next day.

This trip was one of the toughest things I’ve done in my life. I saw thousands of vulnerable refugees: children, women, families, human beings seeking a last chance of life.

They were sleeping outside in the cold, and walked for hours every day, carrying babies, toddlers and the basics for survival that their tired bodies allowed.

And the horror stories of the lives they’d fled in their home countries:

  • women raped and trafficked;

  • a family that will only be safe from gangs if one brother kills the other brother;

  • people who refused to sell their vote to the president and now the government wants them dead;

  • large groups of Nicaraguan protesters/activists with broken teeth/scars from the beatings they endured;

  • a man who was tortured with his brother who died – he showed me multiple scars on his arms and face and his mutilated fingers;

  • survivors of domestic violence;

  • former police officers who refused to be corrupt so now the police/gangs want them dead;

  • people whose family members were killed by the police;

  • witnesses to crimes perpetrated by the police;

  • Hondureños who had lived in Mexico but were also persecuted there;

  • Mexicans pretending to be Honduran because that was their only safe way out.

A lot of these people should qualify for asylum. And asking for asylum in the US is LEGAL.

This is real life. These human beings deserve compassion.
Carrying things members of the caravan can't.jpg

If you would like to help send more volunteer lawyers like Nancy to the front lines of the immigration crisis, please consider making a tax-deductible gift to help the L4GG Foundation reach its $250,000 goal by 12/31. We’ve set this ambitious goal in hopes of serving five times more immigrant families in 2019.

Judge Kavanaugh's Nomination Should Not Be Confirmed

Lawyers for Good Government (L4GG) is a non-partisan, non-profit organization made up of more than 125,000 lawyers, judges, law students, and supporters across the country. Our mission is to strengthen democratic institutions, resist abuse of power and corruption, and defend individual rights. We write to express our deep concerns regarding the potential confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.

Based on Judge Kavanaugh’s sworn testimony during his confirmation hearings, and the sworn testimony of others who have made credible allegations against him, we strongly believe that Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination should not be confirmed.

In addition to our substantive concerns regarding Judge Kavanaugh’s suitability for the role of Supreme Court Justice, the manner in which this nomination has proceeded, including the limited nature of the “supplemental” FBI investigation conducted over the past several days, is itself problematic. The failure of the FBI (presumably under the direction of the White House) to interview as many as 40 key witnesses who might have corroborated allegations against Judge Kavanaugh raises serious questions regarding the future integrity and independence of the judicial branch, an essential component of the “checks and balances” system established by our Constitution to protect this country and its citizens from governmental overreach.

The issues in this nomination process now extend far beyond resolution of the credible allegations of sexual assault that prompted last week’s hearings.

Recent events reveal that Judge Kavanaugh lacks the requisite judicial temperament, respect for due process, impartiality, and regard for the rule of law paramount to the role of Supreme Court Justice. In his responses to Senators posing reasonable questions, Judge Kavanaugh demonstrated glaring disrespect for the process, and a shockingly cavalier approach to telling the truth under oath. He has echoed politicized calls from Republican Senators and President Trump to disregard the testimony of those who contradict his accounts. He has put forward conspiracy theories driven by anger and partisanship. Taken together or separately, these actions are disqualifying and should be sufficient to defeat Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

The Code of Conduct for United States Judges states that a judge should act with integrity, and avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities.

More specifically, Canons 1 and 2 provide, in relevant part, as follows:

Canon 1: A Judge Should Uphold the Integrity and Independence of the Judiciary

An independent and honorable judiciary is indispensable to justice in our society. A judge should maintain and enforce high standards of conduct and should personally observe those standards, so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary may be preserved. The provisions of this Code should be construed and applied to further that objective.

Canon 2: A Judge Should Avoid Impropriety and the Appearance of Impropriety in all Activities

(A) Respect for Law. A judge should respect and comply with the law and should act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.

(B) Outside Influence. A judge should not allow family, social, political, financial, or other relationships to influence judicial conduct or judgment. A judge should neither lend the prestige of the judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others nor convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge. A judge should not testify voluntarily as a character witness.

Judge Kavanaugh has failed to comply with the standards set forth in Canons 1 and 2 of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, as set forth below.

  • Perjury and Lack of Candor

Throughout his sworn testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, not only did Judge Kavanaugh repeatedly engage in evasion by failing to forthrightly and directly answer numerous questions from Senators, he failed to answer questions truthfully in many cases.

For example, when repeatedly asked by several Senators on the Judiciary Committee if he would be willing to ask for an FBI investigation into the allegations made against him by Dr. Ford and others, Judge Kavanaugh demurred and evaded the question, repeatedly responding by stating he would “do whatever the committee asked” or that “he had asked for a hearing the very next day.” Neither of these answers was responsive to the question of whether he would affirmatively request - or even welcome - an FBI investigation. When he was specifically asked if he was afraid of what an FBI investigation would reveal, he called it a “phony question,” and seemed to belittle the idea of an FBI investigation by stating it would fail to provide any conclusions.

Perhaps even more problematic than Judge Kavanaugh’s non-responsiveness is the clear pattern of misleading answers he provided when he did, in fact, answer questions.

For example, Judge Kavanaugh asserted, numerous times, that the statements of the four witnesses whom Dr. Ford identified as being present at the home where she was attacked indicated that “[the alleged assault] never happened.” This was a clear mischaracterization of those statements, which reflected only that the witnesses did not recall the day or events in question.

Additionally, Judge Kavanaugh asserted that he could not have participated in the assault on Dr. Ford because his high school calendar from July 1982 showed that he attended parties, and drank, only on weekends, and that Dr. Ford reported the incident occurred on a weekday. Yet, in the process of being questioned by Rachel Mitchell, the prosecutor hired by Republican Senators, it became clear through Judge Kavanaugh’s own testimony and calendar evidence that he had attended at least one weekday house party (Thursday, July 1, 1982), and that he drank beer (“skis,” short for “brewskis,” which is slang for beer) at that party.

Judge Kavanaugh testified under oath that references on his high school yearbook page to the “Devil’s Triangle” and “boofing” were names for a drinking game and flatulence, respectively. These statements are quickly refuted through cursory Internet searches as well as statements from a variety of Judge Kavanaugh’s Yale classmates, several of whom the FBI refused (presumably at the direction of the White House) to interview.

  • Inability to Maintain Impartiality

Pursuant to Canon 3(C)(1), a judge is required to disqualify himself in proceedings in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned, especially in instances where “...(a) the judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party, or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding…”

Judge Kavanaugh’s statements under oath at his confirmation hearing, especially his alarming accusation that Democratic Senators were attempting to avenge the Clintons by orchestrating Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford’s testimony (whose testimony was deemed credible by observers on both sides of the political aisle), indicated a clear partisan bias.

In his opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee, for example, Judge Kavanaugh stated: “in the political system of the early 2000s, what goes around comes around,” indicating an inability to remain fair and impartial following a confirmation process that Judge Kavanaugh views as a “national disgrace.” Judge Kavanaugh also specifically attacked Democratic Senators during his opening statement, as well as throughout his testimony. This is not compliant with Canon 2(A), as it demonstrates an inability to remain impartial when there are political parties involved in a dispute, or when a political issue is at stake.

Under both our country’s expectations of our Supreme Court and the Canons of Ethics, such overt and hostile bias and partisanship has no place in our judiciary.

Partisan politics and bias tarnish the reputation for due process, impartiality, and fair-mindedness that is key to the legitimacy of the United States Supreme Court.

Were Judge Kavanaugh to be confirmed, he would doubtless need to recuse himself from many cases that go to the heart of our jurisprudence. He has demonstrated on numerous occasions - including at his confirmation hearing - that he has a clear bias against and disdain for certain segments of the American public.

  • Judicial Temperament

Of additional concern, beyond any answers Judge Kavanaugh gave (or failed to give) at the hearings, is Judge Kavanaugh’s general demeanor and conduct during these hearings, which demonstrated that he lacks the requisite temperament and demeanor to be a Supreme Court Justice. We are not alone in expressing this concern.

As stated above, Canon 2A requires that a judge respect and comply with the law and should act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. The Commentary to Canon 2A also notes:

“An appearance of impropriety occurs when reasonable minds, with knowledge of all the relevant circumstances disclosed by a reasonable inquiry, would conclude that the judge’s honesty, integrity, impartiality, temperament, or fitness to serve as a judge is impaired. Public confidence in the judiciary is eroded by irresponsible or improper conduct by judges. A judge must avoid all impropriety and appearance of impropriety. This prohibition applies to both professional and personal conduct. A judge must expect to be the subject of constant public scrutiny and accept freely and willingly restrictions that might be viewed as burdensome by the ordinary citizen. Because it is not practicable to list all prohibited acts, the prohibition is necessarily cast in general terms that extend to conduct by judges that is harmful although not specifically mentioned in the Code. Actual improprieties under this standard include violations of law, court rules, or other specific provisions of this Code.”

Rather than striking the proper respectful, deferential, and cooperative tone that would have been expected of a federal judge during such a proceeding, Judge Kavanaugh was overtly combative, confrontational, and often disrespectful to the duly elected representatives of the people of the United States.

He yelled, blustered, and even attacked those questioning him, rather than provide the sort of candid and thoughtful testimony we witnessed from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford that very same day.

For example, when Judge Kavanaugh was being questioned by Senator Klobuchar regarding whether he had ever experienced an alcohol-related memory lapse, Judge Kavanaugh replied, “You’re asking about a blackout. I don’t know, have you?” This response is unprofessional, disrespectful, and unacceptable.

  • Allegations of Misconduct

In addition to Judge Kavanaugh’s performance during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, there are numerous allegations regarding his conduct that call into question his fitness to serve on the United States Supreme Court. Most notable of these are the allegations of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (and others) that Judge Kavanaugh committed sexual assault.

Dr. Ford gave credible direct testimony regarding her assault, under oath, to the United States Senate.

In contrast to Judge Kavanaugh, Dr. Ford stated numerous times that she would welcome an FBI investigation into the facts of her allegations. She was honest about where her memory failed her, and she was extremely clear and detailed regarding the specific criminal behaviors in which Judge Kavanaugh and his high school era friend, Mark Judge, engaged during the assault. Dr. Ford also named specific individuals who were friends of Judge Kavanagh at the time and who were present at the gathering where she was sexually assaulted. Finally, Dr. Ford provided evidence that she twice reported the assault to her therapist years before Judge Kavanaugh was on any list of potential nominees for the Supreme Court.

Several more women have since come forward with credible allegations of sexual misconduct by Judge Kavanaugh.

These women have provided specific details about non-consensual sexual acts that Judge Kavanaugh engaged in during high school and college, many of them occurring while he was highly intoxicated. In particular, Deborah Ramirez, a fellow Yale graduate, has accused Judge Kavanaugh of exposing his penis near her face, causing her to have to push him away to avoid further contact. Ms. Ramirez provided the names of mutual friends and acquaintances who can corroborate this report because they were either witnesses at the time or learned of it contemporaneously when it occurred. Based on the information currently available regarding the FBI’s “supplemental” investigation, many of the individuals on Ms. Ramirez’ witness list have not been questioned by the FBI.

Whether or not he is guilty of the crimes of which he has been accused, Judge Kavanaugh’s attitude and behavior in response to the allegations against him were indicative of a cavalier and irresponsible attitude toward survivors of sexual assault.

As lawyers, we are committed to the principle that in the criminal justice system, the accused are innocent until proven guilty. We’re not arguing here that Judge Kavanaugh should be criminally prosecuted, jailed, or otherwise punished for the crime of sexual assault based on the publicly available evidence.

Our argument is simple:  

When a nominee for the Supreme Court of the United States responds to credible, serious allegations of criminal activity primarily with evasion, anger, misleading answers, disrespect, and partisan outbursts, it is the responsibility of the United States Senate to advise the President to choose a different nominee.

No Vote on Brett Kavanaugh without a Thorough and Impartial Investigation

Lawyers for Good Government, a non-partisan national advocacy organization working to strengthen democratic institutions, resist abuse of power, and defend individual rights, joins with the American Bar Association and the Dean of the Yale Law School, as well as with scores of other Senators, scholars, and champions for the sanctity of the Rule of Law, in calling for the Senate to refrain from voting on the U.S. Supreme Court Candidacy of Brett Kavanaugh unless and until a thorough and impartial investigation of criminal allegations against Judge Kavanaugh has been completed. The appropriate resource for such investigation is the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  

Cursory and superficial inquiries cannot substitute for thorough and professional fact-finding by impartial investigators with the FBI, nor can a “limited” FBI investigation consisting solely of interviews with four individuals named by the White House suffice to allay concerns about alleged criminal activity on the part of a Supreme Court nominee.

The U.S. Supreme Court is the most powerful and influential interpreter of our country’s rule of law. In discharging their extraordinarily consequential responsibilities, Supreme Court justices must not only be brilliant legal minds, but should also be paragons of fairness, integrity, and personal character. To rush an inadequately investigated candidacy to a vote for the sake of political expediency represents a betrayal of American principles and ideals.


L4GG just launched our Climate Change Resources site, where we're posting the state profiles and other resources prepared by more than 200 L4GG volunteer lawyers in support of the Sierra Club's "Ready for 100" campaign to help municipalities shift to 100% renewable energy. So far, we've posted 3 state profiles, and plan to post another 10 - 15 state profiles by the end of 2018.

To view the profiles, go to the link below, create a member account, and then click on the state(s) you want to view:



"L4GG’s coordination of volunteers to produce legal research for cities will be a game-changer for our Ready for 100 Program. L4GG’s work will help cities across the country navigate complicated energy policy and expedite their shift to 100% renewable energy." — Jodie Van Horn, Director, Sierra Club "Ready for 100" Campaign

"L4GG’s ability to coordinate such a large group of legal volunteers nationwide fills a deep niche that has been lacking; cities want to take action, but often do not have the resources to create tangible, realistic pathways to renewable energy." — Antha Williams, Head of Environmental Programs, Bloomberg Philanthropies

L4GG would like to thank Jillian Phoenix Blanchard, L4GG Climate Change Program Lead, for her hard work and leadership on this front.


One-year anniversary of James Comey's firing

One-year anniversary of James Comey's firing

We urge every American to remain vigilant. Refuse to allow President Trump to obstruct the Special Counsel's investigation. Demand a complete accounting of any foreign interference with the 2016 election. Insist that your representatives in Congress take action to preserve the rule of law. The future of our democracy is at stake, and each of us must fight to protect it.

L4GG Heads to Capitol Hill to Preserve the Rule of Law

L4GG Heads to Capitol Hill to Preserve the Rule of Law

Non-partisan Coalition of Lawyers Heads to Capitol Hill, Urging Congress to Protect Mueller Investigation from Interference and Preserve the Rule of Law. 1,500 Lawyers from All 50 States and D.C. Sign Petition Calling for Congressional Action to Protect the Special Counsel Investigation From Potential Interference