Post 1: Interning for The Right to Immigration Institute

Hello. My name is Wenjing Wynne Qin and I’m a rising senior at Brandeis University. This summer, I am interning for The Right to Immigration Institute in Waltham. The Right to Immigration Institute (TRII) is an independent 501(c)(3) organization that trains and supervises students and community leaders to represent immigrants in immigration proceedings, trials, and appeals, and immigrant communities in human rights causes, including but not limited to housing, employment, health care, education, hate crimes, and domestic violence.

I was originally fascinated by the ambition of TRII to provide a platform for undergraduates to participate in the legal system. After learning from students who work for TRII, I made my decision to apply for this internship because of my personal connection to its mission and my confidence that I could maximize my utility as an intern. This has been a tremendously difficult time, especially for the immigrant community, who will likely be disproportionally impacted by the pandemic. Therefore, any kind of help I can give to alleviate the burdens they are suffering from would be my primary goal for this internship.

During the pandemic, with all the courts delaying opening, many of the cases the institute was working on were frozen. Therefore, I have not been doing what I expected to do originally, including getting first-hand experience observing immigration lawyers dealing with immigration cases. Instead, I have been helping more with the general operation of the institute in relation to fundraising and administration.

The specific work I have been doing so far mainly involves research, including how minority–i.e., immigrants–communities have been disproportionally affected by the pandemic, and on the recent lawmaking change proposals of regulations regarding asylum. For the purpose of my research, I have attended several virtual trainings hosted by Hollaback. I tried to identify how Asian-Americans are being affected by hate crimes stimulated and further perpetuated by the pandemic, and what those discriminations look like. This research will be used by the institute to better understand how racial minorities have been affected by the pandemic. 

Slides from anti-harassment training

I have also been assigned the task of conducting research on the recent rule-making change proposed by the Department of Homeland Security. And, I have been doing research on future asylum seekers who would be negatively affected by the rule change, in order to help the Institute prepare its response. My research results will be used to form critical comments on the rule change and be reported back to the Department of Homeland Security.

 

Training slide from Defending Asylums in Court training

Because of the pandemic, everything has been out of the schedule, and there have been some communication problems here and there between me and my supervisors, I am trying my best to keep the schedule going forward. And, hopefully, I can be more involved in client-specific cases in the near future. There have been recent cases the institute is handling in regard to immigrants’ housing problems, and I plan to get involved in cases like this when any new case comes in.

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