I am now halfway through my internship at the National Immigration Project. I can’t believe that the summer is flying by so fast, but I am very happy with the vast amount that I am learning.
When I applied for WOW, I wrote that “I hope that working directly with attorneys on research projects and legal issues will help me assess the impact I could have with a legal education.” I think I am well on my way to discovering this about myself. Through the research projects that I have done, I have gained the confidence in my critical thinking and attention to detail skills that I know I would need if I decide to go to law school. I have definitely learned a lot about immigration law and the broad scope of careers that I could have with that degree.
This experience has made me more aware of the immigration issues that this country is grappling with, and I am even more motivated to keep myself informed. During staff meetings in which we discuss immigration law issues and its impact on our clients, I am able to participate a lot more than I was at the beginning of my internship. I have also been discussing law school options with the other intern who is a law student, and one of my supervisors, who is a staff attorney.
I really enjoy working on both the legal and advocacy sides of the NIPNLG. During my internship, I have been involved in many projects, but I am especially proud of creating an alert for the National Immigration Project’s website that raises awareness about the current action in Congress about the Violence Against Women Act. It is important for us to encourage our members and the general public to speak out against legislation that could impact them and those around them.
In another meaningful research project, I assisted in the writing of an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in the case of Chaidez v. United States. The NIPNLG writes these briefs in order to help immigrants win their cases by providing supporting legal arguments. For the brief, I compiled a list of resources used by my supervisor to strengthen his supporting legal brief. I am proud of it because I spent a lot of time learning new legal research skills.
I also went to a rally for immigrant rights last week in the Massachusetts State House. As you can see below, it’s very convenient to get there and you could practically throw a rock at it from where the NIPNLG office is located!
I just finished my first full week as an intern at the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG) in Boston, MA, which is a national non-profit organization composed of a network of legal professionals who provide legal assistance and support to immigrant communities and their legal practitioners and advocates. The NIPNLG seeks to promote justice and equality by both defending and advancing the rights of immigrants. We focus on assisting five major categories of immigrant communities: those facing criminal charges with consequences of deportation, survivors of crimes and domestic violence, those facing raids or immigration enforcement action, non-citizens who want complete freedom of political expression, and non-citizens living with HIV/AIDS. Our mission is to provide immigrants and their attorneys the support and guidance they need in defending their rights. The legal process can be very confusing and daunting for non-citizens who cannot afford attorneys’ fees. The organization’s success depends on the dedication of its staff and members who provide crucial technical assistance. Our role is to provide useful information and set up connections between attorneys and immigrants.
My responsibilities will include assisting both the Director of Development and Communications and the Staff Attorneys on various administrative, legal, and development projects throughout the summer. My first project is creating a program book for an upcoming reception at an American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) conference which honors one of our members who has done outstanding work to defend immigrants’ rights within the past year. Click here for the story of one of the immigrants whom he represented and successfully defended. Another component of my experience at the NIPNLG will be communicating with immigrants who are currently detained in prisons all over the country who are looking for a pro bono attorney or legal advice. As we receive these letters, the staff splits them up, and everyone is responsible for responding to detainees with the resources they have requested. Through this ongoing project, I hope to better understand both the legal aspects of immigration and the areas in which our legal system does not support immigrants’ needs and rights.
I found and secured this internship with the tremendous help of a Brandeis professor and colleague of an NIPNLG member. Through this connection, I contacted the Director of Legal Advocacy and set up an interview before I went abroad for the spring semester. Though they usually only take law student interns, they created a unique position for me that both fit their needs and my summer learning goals. I feel very welcomed and needed in the office, and I am very excited to continue to learn about how a small non-profit functions and how it contributes to the greater picture of advancing immigrant rights. I also hope to explore options for graduate school and/or a possible future legal or non-profit career having to do with social justice.
Here is a picture of my desk: I already feel like a contributing member to the important work that the staff does. They really try to include me in the office culture. I look forward to contributing to the NIPNLG’s goals.