After a week representing immigrant clients both in and out of court at the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas, Immigration Law & the Border student Lorraine Hall ’17 relished the importance of the hands-on course.
"The law cannot fully be understood without seeing how it affects real people,” says Hall. “This was an invaluable experience for me because it transformed how I think about the law. The academics of law school alone could not have given me this perspective."
The unique course exposes students to policy and legal issues in the classroom and on the front lines of the immigration debate, all while providing a healthy dose of client representation. During this year’s trip – which runs from March 4-10, 2018 during Loyola’s spring break – students will engage in a variety of activities designed to expose them to the real-life challenges they will encounter as immigration lawyers.
On the 2018 trip agenda: visits to the border, ICE detention centers and the Executive Office of Immigration in El Paso. Students will work closely with United Neighborhood Organization, a local nonprofit, to conduct consultations and legal research. Additionally, they will make in-court appearances on behalf of migrants facing removal from the United States.
“This class not only affords students the opportunity to practice being zealous advocates for immigrant clients,” says Marissa Montes ’12, co-director of the Loyola Immigrant Justice Clinic, who along with Professor Kevin Lapp will provide guidance on the trip. “It also teaches them that as lawyers, we have the ability to truly seek justice for the communities about which we care.”
Participating students, who must pay their own way, are nearly halfway toward their fundraising goal and are still accepting donations. Alumni of the program say it is more than worth it. The experience has had a lasting impact on students, whose clients make an indelible impression on them.
"This program is pure client representation,” says Christopher Peterson ’17. “You interview your client, thoroughly figure out their case and argue the case in court so that not only is this amazing person taken out of removal proceedings, but they’re made a lawful permanent resident. And that’s just one day!"
Want to learn more about how Loyola can help you make a difference? RSVP now for the Loyola Immigrant Justice Clinic’s upcoming symposium, “Immigration Politics: Shifting Norms, Policies and Practices,” on March 16 on Loyola’s downtown L.A. campus.