For over 14 years, each Spring Break, law students, under the supervision of Clinic faculty, have traveled to Harlingen, Texas, near the US-Mexico border, to provide legal assistance to immigrants and refugees being held in detention by the Department of Homeland Security. Students participating in this service trip have the opportunity to visit detention facilities (including juvenile detention facilities), interview clients, assisted with factual and legal research, present cases in court and otherwise assisted the work of attorneys and paralegals at ProBAR, a not-for-profit organization dedicating to serving immigrants and refugees in detention. Applications for the trip are accepted in January.
Beginning in 2010, the Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic, in partnership with the Steans Center for Community-Based Service Learning, has sponsored a summer volunteer project pairing law students and undergraduate students with immigrant crime victims in need of assistance in pursuing immigration benefits. US immigration laws provide for nonimmigrant “U” status for victims of certain crimes who had assisted in the investigation and prosecution of the crime and who could show substantial harm as a result of the crime. Clinic CBO partners often identify clients potentially eligible for the U visa, but who are unable to access legal services. The Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic is in a unique position to provide assistance in a limited number of cases. Law students interested in assisting are asked to donate 40 hours over the course of the summer in order to assist undocumented immigrant victims of crimes under the supervision, training and support of law faculty. Law students are provided with training on client interviewing skills, legal writing, eligibility for the U visa, and professional responsibility to support their work. Law students may also be paired with undergraduate students who have applied competitively to participate in the Project to provide case support, such as drafting client interview summaries and affidavits, gathering and organizing evidence. Interested students are invited to apply for the project in the Spring.
The Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic works with clients from around the world, many of whom are not fluent in English. The Clinic often has the need for assistance from volunteer interpreters and translators to help with a variety of projects: from translation of documents—such as birth certificates, death certificates, political party cards--to translation of more detailed statements, to providing ongoing interpretation for client meetings and case preparation. The time commitment varies. Fluency in legal terminology is not required. Accuracy, understanding of professional responsibility obligations and a signed statement from you that all information will be kept confidential are required.
For more information, please attend an informational session or contact Lorena Hernandez at firstname.lastname@example.org.