Ours is an immigrant story. It’s a story of past and present generations risking everything to make a better future for us and our children. It’s a story of conflict and struggle, of dignity and determination, of perseverance and achievement. It’s a story about the power of ordinary people coming together to do extraordinary things. Through our work and the lives that we lead, we are constantly writing the next chapter in this story. We believe it’s our responsibility to make each chapter better than the last.
The vision of our practice is to advance social justice and enhance the rights of immigrants and their communities by offering creative, affordable, and client-centered legal advocacy. We measure our success not only by the great results we obtain for our clients, but also by the gains our communities make in enhancing immigrant justice.
We pursue this vision by providing high-quality, low-cost legal representation in the places where immigrants need it most: In the immigration detention system; at the county jail; in the criminal courtroom; at the workplace; and in state and federal courtrooms across the Deep South.
R. Andrew Free
R. Andrew Free represents immigrants and their communities in immigration, civil rights, workers’ rights, criminal defense, and government transparency cases in Tennessee and around the country. He serves as Of Counsel to Barrett Johnston, LLC and maintains his own law practice with offices in Nashville and Shelbyville, Tennessee.
Andrew is the Chair of the American Bar Association Individual Rights and Responsibilities Section’s Committee on the Rights of Immigrants. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors and the Legal Advisory Board of Dignidad Obrera/Workers Dignity.
He is licensed to practice in Tennessee and in federal district courts including U.S. District Courts for the Middle and Eastern Districts of Tennessee, the Northern District of Illinois, and the District of Columbia, and federal appellate courts including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth, Sixth and Ninth Circuits.
Andrew is a 2010 graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School, where he received the Bennett Douglas Bell Memorial Prize. While at Vanderbilt, Andrew participated in the Cecil D. Branstetter Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution Program, the Appellate Advocacy Clinic, the Moot Court Board, and The List Project to Resettle Iraqi Allies. Andrew graduated summa cum laude from Kennesaw State University in 2004, where he earned Dean’s List honors every semester.
Andrew is a member of the American and Tennessee Bar Associations, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, the National Police Accountability Project, and the American Association for Justice.
Vanessa Martinez is a Paralegal and Practice Manager with the Law Offices of R. Andrew Free. Vanessa is a passionate advocate for immigrant clients, with many years of experience putting her bilingual skills to good use in medical, legal, and other professional settings.
We put our vision to work by providing legal representation, counseling, and advocacy in the following practice areas:
Immigration & Immigrants’ Rights
We practice before Immigration Courts (the Executive Office of Immigration Review) across the Deep South — including in Memphis, Atlanta, and Louisiana — for immigrants facing deportation from the United States. We represent detained clients (in Jena, Oakdale, and elsewhere) seeking immigration bonds and detained and non-detained clients seeking relief from removal, such as Adjustment of Status, Cancellation of Removal, Asylum / Withholding / CAT, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Motions to Reopen / Reconsider, and Derivative / Acquired Citizenship. We also file Motions to Suppress Evidence and Terminate removal proceedings based on the constitutional violations of ICE and state or local police. We also represent clients in appeals to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and in petitions for review in the Fifth, Sixth, and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals.
In addition, we utilize multi-pronged litigation and advocacy strategies to seek non-traditional forms of relief from deportation such as deferred action, humanitarian parole, significant public benefit parole, Stays of Removal, and other types of prosecutorial discretion that can stop or delay deportation.
Finally, as part of our removal defense practice, we work to return individuals who were illegally removed from the United States.
We also handle non-deportation-related immigration matters such as:
- family-based immigration including adjustment of status
- consular processing and waivers
- fiancee visas
- citizenship and nationality law including naturalization applications, petitions or certificates of citizenship, and citizenship denial litigation
- DACA – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
- humanitarian protection such as refugee / asylum law, U-Visas, VAWA, and T-visas
- LGBT-specific immigration strategies
When federal, state, and local governments and government officials violate the constitutional rights and civil liberties of immigrants and immigrant communities, we take action. We pursue civil rights matters in federal and state courts to recover damages and, where possible, changes in policies on behalf of those harmed by government abuses.
Unlawful Immigration Enforcement Actions Against U.S. Citizens
A significant portion of our civil rights practice involves representing United States citizens who are mistakenly arrested, detained, prosecuted, or removed by immigration authorities. When the U.S. government jails and deports U.S. Citizens for immigration violations, we demand accountability from those responsible.
False Imprisonment and Other Abuses Involving ICE Detainers
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security frequently seeks to prevent the release of detained individuals who would otherwise be eligible to get out of jail. The way DHS does this is through the use of a “Immigration Detainer.” When detainers cause constitutional violations of detained individuals, such as denial of bond or unlawfully delayed release, we demand accountability on behalf of our clients.
Police Accountability for Brutality, Racial Profiling, False Arrest, Corruption, and Malicious Prosecution
The rule of law cannot survive if those in whom we place our trust are allowed to misuse their authority with impunity. Accordingly, we use federal civil rights statutes such at 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 to hold police, sheriff, state troopers, and other officials responsible for abusing immigrants and immigrant communities. More than once, the source of these referrals has come from honest and dedicated officials within the government agency. We welcome such whistle-blowing and will continue to preserve the anonymity and confidentiality necessary to enable it.
First Amendment Protections for Activists and Whistleblowers
We frequently represent brave activists and organizers seeking to exercise their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and assembly. Whether serving as Legal Observers for demonstrations or providing pre-action legal consultation for direct action, we strive to protect the First Amendment rights of those — particularly immigrants and immigrant communities — who seek to contribute to the pubic discourse through concerted First Amendment speech.
In addition, we represent government officials seeking to expose waste, fraud, abuse, mismanagement, and corruption within their departments. As the law has constricted the realm of protected speech for public employees, we have stood behind this courageous public servants who were willing to risk everything to bring misconduct to light.
Experience has shown immigrant workers are particularly susceptible to workplace abuse by unscrupulous bosses and managers. We represent immigrant workers who are underpaid or unpaid, threatened or intimated, discriminated against, or terminated in violation of federal and state laws. We also assist in reporting workplace safety violations, defending against worker’s compensation retaliation, and organizing to the fullest extent provided by federal law.
Government Transparency through Freedom of Information Laws
Freedom of Information Act Requests and Litigation: We believe sunshine is often the best disinfectant for wasteful, abusive, or corrupt government agencies and officials. However, our Freedom of Information laws are too often underutilized when it comes to exposing the inner workings of our broken immigration system. Accordingly, we represent journalists, academics, community organizations, and individuals who file and litigate FOIA cases of public significance throughout the country. We also have experience litigating under the Tennessee Public Records Act and Tennessee’s Open Meetings Act.
Crimmigration & Padilla Advice
In our current era of increased criminalization of immigrants by federal, state, and local authorities, what happens in criminal court can make the difference between a path to citizenship and runway to deportation. Now more than ever, non-citizen criminal defendants and their attorneys must not only know the immigration consequences of a particular outcome in criminal court, but also understand what alternatives might yield a better immigration result. Far too often, immigrant criminal defendants plead guilty without having all of the information they need to make an informed decision about the best course of action. We work to remedy that problem before it happens, and to blunt the impact of such pleas after they are entered.
R. Andrew Free
t. 615.244.2202 | c. 615.873.0837 | f. 615.244.4345
Barrett Johnston, LLC
217 2nd Ave. N
Nashville, TN 37201
112 Public Square East
Shelbyville, TN 37160
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