How can law students support asylum seekers?
Immigration detention is at a historic all-time high in the US; about 400,000 immigrants cycle through the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement system each year. Most detainees face the deportation process alone without a right to counsel in their proceedings. The Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School fills this void by offering detainees legal help.
Students and faculty at the Clinic work with some of the most vulnerable people stuck in a complicated legal system. Rebecca Urquiola ’17LAW and Hannah Weichbrodt ’17LAW recently secured asylum for a mother and daughter from Honduras. They represented the mother in court, helped her write an affidavit, and connected her to medical and mental health services.
“There's not a day that goes by that I'm not thankful for the ability to have helped her and for her to have helped us to become better lawyers and better advocates,” said Urquiola.
Immigrants at the Clinic are typically fleeing persecution and poverty in search of a better life in the US. “We help people walk through all of the steps of their journey,” said Weichbrodt.