“During the first semester of my final year of law school, I worked as a student attorney in my school’s immigration law clinic. Even though I had previously been exposed to immigration law and policy through coursework and summer research experiences, I hadn’t gotten to directly assist with case development until that point.
Initially, what peaked my interest about immigration law was its link to international law. However, what made me really begin to consider practicing immigration law in the long term is the field’s constant engagement with questions of human dignity and vulnerability. Every day, I had to not only think about creative arguments that would appeal to an immigration judge, but also consider how I could explain the law to my clients so that they could actively participate in the decision making of their case.
Practicing this client-centered approach to lawyering disrupts the powerful anti-immigrant narrative pushed in U.S. immigration policy today. I think our active engagement with our clients in the clinic got them out of the mindset of seeing themselves as ‘criminal’ or ‘illegal.’ We embraced our clients as members of our local community. Being a part of that process and disrupting that narrative was incredibly rewarding.
The recent Supreme Court decision regarding DACA is comforting to me, in that it recognizes that the U.S. government cannot rip away a program that hundreds of thousands of DREAMERS rely on without providing a legally sufficient reason for doing so. Specifically, the Court concluded that the decision made by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to discontinue the program was ‘arbitrary and capricious’ under the Administrative Procedures Act. Ultimately, this means that DREAMERS can carry on with their lives here for now. However, until Congress passes legislation affording DACA recipients permanent status, I would imagine that many still will be unable to rest easy.
If you would like to learn more about immigration law and policy in the United States or hear stories about those living undocumented, here are a couple resources that may be helpful:
– Living Undocumented – Netflix Original Documentary Series
– Tempest Tossed, a podcast hosted by immigration law experts Alex Aleinikoff and Deb Amos, returns on June 30 with a special series called ‘Entry Denied,’ which examines the impact of the Trump Administration’s policies on migrants, refugee and immigrant communities, and the nation.”