Pangea's Origins

Pangea was created to help fill the great need for the representation of immigrants in both, detained and non-detained, immigration courts.  With over 32,000* immigrants in deportation proceedings in the San Francisco Immigration Court, there is a great need for court and immigration defense services.  Immigrants in removal proceedings need a lawyer because of the complexity of immigration law and the negative consequences of deportation. Also, many immigrants in the court process are eligible for relief or protection under existing laws, and they may have a pathway to citizenship.

Unfortunately, only a small percentage of immigrants have immediate access to legal counsel.  Private immigration attorneys can be prohibitively expensive. And most nonprofits, even in San Francisco, do not represent clients in complex removal proceedings. The key to this gap is providing access to counsel.

Pangea is one example of an organization that was created to help bridge the access gap. While it hasn’t come without its challenges, Pangea created a low-fee model supported by grants that has doubled its size, budget and representation capacity every year in the last three years (2013-2016).  Low bono, or affordable fee models similar to Pangea are growing around the country in various areas of law, creating a financially viable avenue to fill the justice gap.

Pangea was founded in November 2012 and officially launched in January 2013.  The structure and foundation of our programs are based on other projects we have seen first hand in Sierra Leone, Turkey, Iran, Haiti, Argentina, Guatemala, and the United States.  Bringing experiences and projects that have been successful around the world and locally, Pangea fills a unique need and aims to become a model that is sustainable and duplicable.  

Pangea is a non-hierarchical or horizontal, consensus-based collective of advocates who are committed to a common mission.  In this regard, we are guided by the models of worker coops in Argentina and collectives in the United States and other places in the world.  


*There were 32,330 immigrants in the San Francisco Immigration Court in deportation proceedings as of Jan. 2016.