Immigration Clinic Law Students Provide Legal Representation to Afghani Asylum-Seekers
U of A School of Law students partnered with Catholic Charities of Arkansas in Little Rock to provide representation to four asylum-seekers from Afghanistan this year. Since August 2022, roughly 75,000 have been given permission to live in the United States, at least temporarily, and many may be eligible for asylum.
The project was part of the students' work in the Immigration Clinic, one of six clinic opportunities available to law students as part of the School of Law Legal Clinic.
Working in teams, Immigration Clinic students interviewed and screened clients for asylum eligibility, prepared applications for asylum, organized evidence and filed applications with the New Orleans Sub-Office of the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services.
"My experience over the past two semesters in the Immigration Clinic has been both humbling and gratifying," said Gus Mettler, Advanced Immigration Clinic student. "Preparing asylum applications and seeing first-hand evidence as to how Afghan citizens are being persecuted has been an incredibly eye-opening experience. I am thankful to our clinic clients who have trusted me enough with their stories to be able to file applications on their behalf, and I am thankful for the opportunity to help where I can."
"The experience for the students of both working with asylum-seekers and seeing the real-life consequences of current events could not be more valuable," said Nathan Bogart, visiting director of the Immigration Clinic. "The practice of law is often helping people navigate needlessly complicated processes for even the most basic necessities. For the clients to be able to receive this help free of charge can be life altering, and we are grateful to them for their trust and to Catholic Charities for being willing to partner with us on this project."
In addition to representing these clients, Immigration Clinic students also staged three naturalization clinics, prepared and performed a mock asylum hearing, heard from several guest speakers working in the field of immigration law and managed a diverse caseload, including U visas, family petitions, removal proceedings and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals applications.
"The practical experience I have acquired in the Immigration Clinic has been invaluable to me," said Sydney Adams, Advanced Immigration Clinic student. "Everything I have done during my time in the clinic, from class discussions in the seminar to meeting with clients, has helped me grow both personally and professionally. It is not very often that you get an opportunity to learn in such a hands-on manner, and I feel extremely fortunate to have been afforded such."
The law school Legal Clinic was first directed by then-professor Hillary Rodham Clinton in 1975 to give students hands-on skills training by representing real clients in real-life legal situations and to provide a free and much needed service to Northwest Arkansas. Clinic students practice law under the close supervision of a full-time faculty member. Learn more about the training and experience offered to students in the School of Law Legal Clinics and the critical legal services the program provides to the community.
About the School of Law: The law school offers a competitive J.D. as well as an advanced LL.M. program, which are taught by nationally recognized faculty. The school offers unique opportunities for students to participate in pro bono work, externships, live client clinics, competitions, and food and agriculture initiatives. The school strives to identify, discuss, and challenge issues of race, color, ethnicity, and the impact(s) they have on students, faculty, and staff members in an effort to achieve a diverse, inclusive, and equitable community. From admitting the Six Pioneers who were the first African American students to attend law school in the South without a court order to graduating governors, judges, prosecutors, and faculty who went on to become President of the United States and Secretary of State, the law school has a rich history and culture. Follows us at @uarklaw.
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