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 because there is no right to counsel in immigration proceedings. The Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School fills this void.
Through the Clinic, students and faculty provide legal help to some of the most vulnerable people stuck in a labyrinthine legal system. Recently, Rebecca Urquiola ’17LAW and Hannah Weichbrodt ’17LAW secured asylum for a mother and daughter from Honduras. The students 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 to the US typically flee persecution and poverty, and the Clinic strives to help them reach the futures they strive to live. “We help people walk through all of the steps of their journey,” said Weichbrodt.