Contemplating a Rebellious Approach to Representing Unaccompanied Immigrant Children in a Deportation Defense Clinic
23 Clinical Law Review 167 (2016).
51 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2017 Last revised: 31 Mar 2017
Date Written: 2016
In response to the surge of unaccompanied immigrant children at the border in the summer of 2014, I expanded my pro bono work with students and started a law school deportation defense clinic. With the hard work of a full-time immigration attorney and a paralegal, the Clinic has attracted three to four students each semester (including summers) who receive three to six units of credit. Within a few months, the Clinic accepted dozens of cases that were transferred to northern California from detention facilities across the country. The pressure to accept such a large number of cases so quickly came from funding sources and from other legal services providers who were having difficulties managing their own caseloads. The clients uniformly suffer from trauma as well as cultural challenges. In the meantime, with Jerry López’s vision of rebellious lawyering in mind, I have been committed to practicing law and running the clinic in a collaborative fashion. As this work under pressure has unfolded, we have failed to be perfect. Triage often forces us to shortcut the type of collaboration that is needed to focus on the detailed needs of individual clients or develop allied relationships and institutional partnerships. Yet some remarkable things have been accomplished. The Clinic’s staff, students, and I strive to not, as Lopez put it, “be overwhelmed by the daily detail of work” or get frustrated over the “lack of fully developed theoretical help,” and try to pursue a rebellious vision of lawyering amidst the high case volume and multiple client needs.
Keywords: Unaccompanied, Immigrant Children, Deportation Defense Clinic
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