DMRS opened its doors in 1986 in collaboration with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to assist Central and South America refugees fleeing their war-torn countries and undocumented migrants needing legal assistance resulting from the passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. In 1989, DMRS obtained Agency Recognition by the Board of Immigration Appeals, which allowed us to provide representation in deportation hearings, and in 1990 became an independent non-profit organization.
In the early 1990’s, DMRS created a Citizenship Program to provide representation to permanent residents applying for citizenship, and a Family Unification Program (now the Residency Program) to provide legal services to U.S. citizens and permanent residents to petition for undocumented family members. Shortly after the 1994 passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), DMRS created the VAWA Program (now the Crime Victims Program) to represent victims of domestic violence and other crimes who were eligible to receive immigration benefits. In the late 1990’s, DMRS partnered with the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), a relationship which continues to this day. By 2000, CLINIC had closed its El Paso office, which led to DMRS taking responsibility for delivery of legal services to foreign-born priests and other religious workers throughout Texas and New Mexico, and at one time Arizona. This led to a closer collaboration with CLINIC in order to continue the mission of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in the border region.
In 2006, DMRS became a subcontractor of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) and began overseeing the Legal Orientation Program, which provides know-your-rights presentations, self-help workshops, and assistance with finding pro bono counsel to adults detained at the El Paso Service Processing Center. This program was expanded to the Otero Service Processing Center in mid 2008. At the beginning of 2007, DMRS also became a subcontractor of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which allowed us to begin providing know-your-rights presentations, individualized legal screenings, pro bono referrals, and legal representation to unaccompanied immigrant children housed in El Paso area facilities.
DMRS’ offices were originally located in El Paso, next St. Patrick’s Cathedral and relocated in 2004 to its current location at 2400A E. Yandell Drive. Today DMRS continues its work as an incorporated non-profit ministry of the Diocese of El Paso.
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