“As third-year law students and student-attorneys of the Immigration Clinic at The George Washington University Law School, we have the honor of representing immigrants from around the world while guiding them through our very complex immigration system.
Through this experience, we’ve learned that immigrants are just like us. They share our values of family and community; education and opportunity; freedom and security. They’re individuals who are trying to make the best decisions for themselves and for their loved ones.
But in many ways immigrants are not like us. There are some things that you and I will never fully understand. There are some things that we, having grown up under the cloak of privilege afforded us by our status as natural born citizens of the United States, will never have to endure.
So how do we bridge this gap? Why should we take time from our uniquely challenging lives to appreciate and understand our privilege? To what end?
For many student-attorneys, the answer is simple: I am an immigrant. I was an immigrant. My parents are or were immigrants. For the two of us, and countless others, however, what we view as our obligation to welcome and accommodate immigrants has been challenged regularly by our government, our communities, and even our families.
. . . .
We have learned countless lessons from working in the Immigration Clinic. Not the least, we have learned that, although our privilege may protect us from ever having to stand in the shoes of our clients, it has afforded us the extraordinary opportunity to confront the status quo and encourage reconciliation.”
I encourage everyone to read the complete article at the link. Thanks to Professor Alberto Benitez of the GW Immigration Clinic for bringing this to my attention. And, thanks to Sarah and Maley for your caring, your insights, and all that you are doing for America.
Looks like lots of new recruits for the “New Due Process Army.” These guys are the real “heart and soul” of today’s American law. Thanks to Professor Alberto Gonzalez for sending this in.
“Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly has signed sweeping new guidelines that empower federal authorities to more aggressively detain and deport illegal immigrants inside the United States and at the border.
In a pair of memos, Kelly offered more detail on plans for the agency to hire thousands of additional enforcement agents, expand the pool of immigrants who are prioritized for removal, speed up deportation hearings and enlist local law enforcement to help make arrests.
The new directives would supersede nearly all of those issued under previous administrations, Kelly said, including measures from President Barack Obama aimed at focusing deportations exclusively on hardened criminals and those with terrorist ties.
. . . .
The memos don’t overturn one important directive from the Obama administration: a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals that has provided work permits to more than 750,000 immigrants who came to the country illegally as children.”
Here are the two memos signed by Secretary Kelly (thanks to Professor Alberto Benitez):
Looks like everything is a “priority,” almost everyone will be detained, and DHS Assistant Chief Counsel won’t be offering PD or other negotiated “deals” except in extraordinary situations.
It’s not even clear from this whether the ACCs will still have authority to “waive appeal” in cases where the DHS loses. If not, that means that the BIA could also be overwhelmed with marginal DHS appeals.
While one of the memos notes the 534,000 Immigration Court backlog, there is a total disconnect in putting all these new priorities into Immigration Court without any plan for dealing with the 534,000 already there. (Most folks already here arrived at least two years ago, so even the greater use of expedited removal will leave hundreds of thousands of potential new filings for the Immigration Courts.)
When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority! Looks to me like another ill-conceived, “built to fail,” scheme. Over time, these plans are likely to be taken apart by the Article III Courts, bit by bit, piece by piece, until we have total chaos in the immigration enforcement system. Haste makes waste.
Professor Benitez and his students from the George Washington Law School Immigration Clinic have consistently made huge contributions to due process and the excellence of immigration practice at the Arlington Immigration Court. I highly recommend this educational video!!
“As international students across the country grappled this week with the fallout from President Donald Trump’s immigration executive order, a group of law students were bracing to defend undocumented immigrants.
Student-attorneys from GW Law School’s Immigration Clinic arranged to hold information sessions for international students and collect donations to educate the public about what they called a misunderstood immigration system and the potential impact of Trump’s executive order.
The order blocked all refugee resettlement for four months and banned entry into the United States for citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days. On Friday, a federal judge temporarily halted the order, reopening the country’s borders to previously blocked travelers and refugees.
While attorneys said no more students than usual have called for legal representation, they were barraged with emails from concerned international students.
The clinic co-hosted a “Know Your Rights” presentation Thursday with the Muslim Law Students Association to offer advice for non-resident students who were concerned about their immigration status.
“We’re trying to be more proactive. I think everybody right now wants to be more proactive and wants to know what can we do,” clinic attorney and law school student Fanny Wong said.
The clinic provides free legal representation for clients who face deportation or are seeking asylum or U.S. citizenship, student-attorneys said. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, law school students wait by the phone fielding calls from immigrants who need help. Each of the nine law students takes in an average three clients at a time. The length of each case varies, some drag though the legal system for years requiring multiple students to take up the case.
Attorneys said the clinic currently didn’t have any clients from the seven affected countries, but Wong said she had a client from Sudan who became a naturalized citizen in October after a nearly nine-year-long process.
“Can you imagine the situation that she would have been had this been two months ago?” she said. “She’s relieved as well, but she’s also scared for her family and friends.”
There will be no shortage of need for well-trained immigration and Constitutional lawyers on all sides of these issues. And, there also will be a continuing need for fair, thoughtful, scholarly judges who can find the way through the legal labyrinth of immigration and nationality law at the intersection with Constitutional protections and authorities.
Colby Ikowitz writes in the Washington Post:
“But she said the men left her with so much more. Their words were a reminder not to make assumptions. And that so many Americans want unity, regardless of their politics, and to not be afraid to connect with someone as human beings, she said.
“This definitely reshaped my perspective. Republican, Democrat, liberal are all subcategories to what we are experiencing,” she said. “It instills a lot of hope.”
For White, he said he wanted to show her that they probably have more in common than it would appear.
“As I sat there I thought about the entire weekend and I thought I don’t know her, she doesn’t know me, but if most Americans have a preconceived perception about people then we’re never going to get better,” he said.”
This “upbeat” take on today’s politics was forwarded to me by my ever optimistic friend, neighbor, and fellow dog walker Professor Alberto Benítez from GW Law. Teacher, role model, and steadfast advocate for social justice, human dignity, and understanding, Professor Benítez and his Clinic Students have been saving lives while doing good in the Arlington Immigration Court for many years. Lots of his alums are out there “making a difference every day” in Government, private practice, the NGO community, and academia.
One of the many great things the Professor has taught his student-attorneys is who really makes our justice system work at the “retail level:” of course, it is the dedicated, hard working, professional court staff who can tell you more about what the practice of law is actually about than almost any judge, prosecutor, or academic. When I worked at Dane County Legal Services after my first year at U.W. Law, my supervising attorney immediately took me over to the courthouse and introduced me to the folks in the Clerk’s Office. He said “These are the people who are going to make you or break you as a lawyer, so treat them well and they’ll show you the ropes.” It’s a lesson I never forgot.
Another great thing about Professor Benítez is his “Wisconsin connection” through his wonderful wife Janice, a native of the famous Fox River Valley metropolis of Oshkosh (by gosh, there really is such a place)!