The Florence Project’s Pro Bono Program

Florence Project pic

Florence Project

Christopher Stender is an immigration attorney and member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. A graduate of the Syracuse University School of Law, Christopher Stender has nearly two decades of experience and is a volunteer for organizations such as the Florence Project.

An Arizona-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Florence Project provides pro bono legal services for individuals of all ages in immigration custody. Through these free legal services, the project works to address the estimated 86 percent of individuals who, due to poverty, do not have a lawyer in immigration removal proceedings. The Florence Project maintains several programs, including an advocacy program, direct services, and a pro bono program.

Through the pro bono program, the Florence Project recruits lawyers who are willing to represent detained immigrants in removal proceedings. These attorneys benefit in that they gain professional experience while making a difference in unequal representation in the legal system. Immigration proceedings include a range of subjects, such as citizenship claims, refugee status adjustments, political asylum determinations, and many others, so the project also provides training and mentoring to attorneys. Criminal law lawyers are recruited for the program to assist with post-conviction cases.


What is Moral Turpitude?

Immigration Attorney pic

Immigration Attorney

Attorney Christopher Stender is an experienced lawyer with numerous published appeals to the Board of Immigration. An avid volunteer for his church, Christopher Stender has spent most of his nearly 20 years of experience as an attorney focusing on immigration-related cases, such as the Marmelejo-Campos v. Mukasey case.

The case of Marmelejo-Campos v. Mukasey, which was decided March 14, 2008, was an appeal to rehear the original case of Marmelejo-Campos v. Gonzales. The case was heard in the Ninth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals, and a three-judge panel ordered that the original case be reheard. The original case was based on the question of whether driving while intoxicated, without a license, is a crime of moral turpitude.

Moral turpitude generally refers to a violation of moral conduct, including acts that violate a person’s duty to others in society. In addition to being a vile and depraved act, crimes of moral turpitude are intentionally evil in nature. These crimes can invalidate an application for a visa or a green card, as well as cause an immigrant who already has either to become deportable.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association

American Immigration Lawyers Association pic

American Immigration Lawyers Association

Christopher Stender is an immigration attorney licensed in the states of New York and Connecticut. Able to practice immigration law in all 50 states, he is also admitted to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. Christopher Stender is a member of a number of professional legal associations, including the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

AILA has more than 14,000 attorneys and law professors engaged in practicing and teaching immigration law. AILA is a not-for-profit, nonpartisan organization that helps immigration attorneys by providing legal updates, continuing legal education, and professional services through its chapters and national committees.

The goals of AILA are many, starting with advocating for immigration laws and policies that are fair and reasonable before Congress, the courts, federal agencies, and the media. AILA also educates the public about the importance of uniting American families who may be separated by legal issues, protecting refugees who have fled dangerous situations in their home countries, and making it possible for United States employers to hire people from abroad with specific skills they need to compete globally.

AILA goals also encompass helping lawyers to achieve the best possible legal services for their clients by increasing attorneys’ knowledge and professionalism. It also facilitates and encourages its members to participate in pro bono programs to help those clients who don’t have the resources to pursue their cases.

American Immigration Lawyers Association Hosted Annual Conference


American Immigration Lawyers Association pic

American Immigration Lawyers Association

An attorney in San Diego, California, Christopher Stender is permitted to practice immigration law in all 50 states. To help him remain compliant, Christopher Stender maintains membership with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), where he was the vice president of the Arizona chapter.

Established in 1946, the AILA represents more than 14,000 professionals working in immigration law and boasts 39 chapters and more than 50 national committees. The nonprofit organization advocates for fair and reasonable policies, enhances professional development, and promotes justice within its membership.

Each year, the AILA hosts a conference where members convene, share ideas, and learn about changes made within the industry. The 2016 AILA conference, which occurred on June 22-25 at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, featured keynote speaker Thomas A. Saenz, who is the president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund. Attendees had an opportunity to partake in more than 170 continuing legal education (CLE) programs and open forum sessions. They also enjoyed orientations, the annual awards, president’s reception, happy hours, and parties.

YMCA of San Diego Raised $6.3 Million for 2015 Year

YMCA of San Diego pic

YMCA of San Diego

Christopher Stender is an immigration attorney in San Diego, California. Dedicated to helping others, attorney Christopher Stender supports the YMCA, particularly Indian Princesses, through which he helps with the camp outs for Daddies and Daughters.

The YMCA of San Diego County strives to improve lives by helping individuals develop their minds, bodies, and souls. The organization seeks to form a strong bond with community members, including families residing in underserved areas. Its goal is to engage one in eight households in programs that can help individuals to grow and thrive.

To help meet its goals, the YMCA of San Diego seeks financial assistance from its community. In 2015, the nonprofit had almost 400,000 members and participants at its 39 facilities, with 48 percent of them children under the age of 18. Thanks to donations made by 14,594 supporters, the organization raised almost $6.3 million in 2015. The donations allowed 77,008 individuals to receive financial assistance.

Subjectivity of the Phrase “Moral Turpitude” Helps Win a Case

Licensed to practice law in New York and Connecticut, attorney Christopher Stender handles cases related to immigration. Attorney Christopher Stender has appeared in front of the Board of Immigration Appeals and the US Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, where he represented Armando Marmolejo-Campos in his case against the attorney general.

Also known as Campos Ramos Armando, Mr. Marmolejo-Campos filed a petition to appeal a decision of his removal from the United States following multiple violations of the driving under the influence (DUI) law. A native and citizen of Mexico, Mr. Marmolejo-Campos entered the United States without an inspection in 1983 and later gained lawful permanent resident status in 2001. However, during the span of less than 10 years, he committed both crimes, one of which involved driving with a suspended or revoked license knowingly. Based on the timeframe, charges, and citizenship status, he faced deportation for crimes involving moral turpitude.

Mr. Marmolejo-Campos and his attorney Mr. Stender convinced the judge overseeing the proceeding to remand the Board of Immigration Appeals’ decision and dissent. The case aiding in their argument was Lopez-Meza v. The Board. It indicated variances of how the phrase “moral turpitude” is interpreted. Because no exact explanation that can eliminate subjectivity is given, Mr. Marmolejo-Campos achieved a favorable outcome.

A Brief Overview of the List of Pro Bono Legal Service Providers

US Department of Justice (DOJ) Image:

US Department of Justice (DOJ)


An immigration attorney, Christopher Stender practices in San Diego, California. Attorney Christopher Stender also supports foreign nationals, both detained and not in custody, by offering pro bono services through the US Department of Justice (DOJ).

At, lawyers will find information on registering for the List of Pro Bono Legal Service Providers. The Office of Legal Access Programs of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) manages the online catalogue. Formerly named the List of Free Legal Services Providers, it documents attorneys who volunteer counsel to individuals in need of representation in immigration court.

Those participating in the program must be registered with the EOIR. It permits an attorney to represent a client before an immigration court and Board of Immigration Appeals. Participation also requires an agreement to provide a minimum of 50 hour of uncompensated counsel annually for every court an attorney has committed to serve. A recertification every three years allows a legal provider to maintain active listing.