Friday, June 22, 2007

It's Been A While

I've been neglecting this blog for a little while, mostly due to the fact that I don't have internet in my apartment at the moment. However, June has been a pretty busy month for me. I have taken on some new cases, and have been dealing with some old ones. I am helping two clients become citizens, which is a really exciting process. There is a long form to fill out, and lots of information to cover, along with a lot of yes or no questions that seem sort of odd (ever been a part of Nazi Germany? weren't born yet) but are important.

I got some new clients through our intake process at the beginning of the month. One is a refugee that I will be helping. Another I cannot get a hold of (which happens fairly regularly, apparently). Lastly, I got to help some people file for a renewal of their TPS. TPS means Temporary Protected Status, and it was recently renewed for Honduras, and Nicaragua. That a country has TPS means that the nationals of that country can stay in the US because of turmoil or other problems in their home country.

Now that I have been doing this work regularly for almost 2 months, I can honestly say that I really love what I do. It is always interesting to work with immigrants, because many of them have such interesting (and heartbreaking) stories. It also provides a set of challenges that you probably won't get anywhere else (like working with interpreters). I look forward to working here for the rest of the summer, and hopefully I will be able to keep up with at least a few of my clients after the school year starts.

In addition to working with clients, I got to organize a table for ILCM at the World Refugee Day. We get to sit at a table, answer questions, and talk to people as they walk by. It was an interesting mix, there were people from other organizations as well as refugees. I talked to a woman who runs a charter school for immigrants who is interested in going to law school. I told her some of my horror stories, but made sure to emphasize that it is definitely a worthwhile experience. :)

I also got to spend a few days in immigration court. I got to see detention court hearings. This is when Immigration brings people in and they get held at the Bloomington office. Many of them get deported back to their country. It is exactly like a jail calendar in a public defender's office, but all the issues relate to immigration. I also got to see a set of non-detained court hearings. The interesting thing about that is they call in a number of people at the same time. So about 20 people are sitting in the courtroom, and they get to observe the proceedings. So, I got to see our ILCM attorney's case as well as a number of other brief hearings. Lastly, I got to see part of a hearing for a client of ours who is seeking a waiver to prevent his removal. This involved direct and cross examination, which was interesting to see. I found it amusing that in our Advocacy class, everything has to be perfect and we get told exactly what we did wrong. Yet, while what we learned matters in the real world, there is no need to be perfect in front of a judge. If the judge is making a decision and they are confused about something, they'll ask.