The Immigration and Human Rights Clinic has marked a year of triumphant resolutions for clients and valuable learning opportunities for students. In the past year, the Clinic achieved significant milestones, including securing asylum for a young man from the Caribbean based on his LGBTQ identity, obtaining a work permit for an East African DC resident facing homelessness, and successfully dismissing removal proceedings for three clients. These accomplishments underscore the Clinic’s unwavering commitment to providing comprehensive support in the face of complex legal issues, housing insecurity, and trauma.

The impact of the Clinic’s work goes beyond securing immigration status; it is about rebuilding lives and offering a chance at a brighter future. The Clinic’s dedication to comprehensive support is evident in its successful resolutions, reflecting a commitment to justice and positive community impact.

Maria Andrea Valderrama ’24, a student involved in the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, reflected on the transformative experiences gained during this past year: “The IHRC provides UDC law students the opportunity to apply for humanitarian relief for a client, pro bono, while gaining the knowledge necessary to do it in a client-centered manner. It is a wholesome approach that includes self-reflection and acknowledgment of how our experiences in the past influence our present performance and perspectives, and identification of our reactions to the trauma the client has experienced. You will learn the importance of emotional intelligence and of recognizing that the adjudicator (judge or asylum officer) has their own biases and preconceived notions. You will learn to strategize your line of questioning for the individual hearing to be in line with your duty to identify when those notions are clouding the adjudicator’s judgment and identify what follow-up questions can guide the adjudicator to a more accurate understanding of your client’s story. It is truly a worthwhile experience.”

The Immigration and Human Rights Clinic’s students have had a transformative year, making a profound difference in the lives of those facing adversity. Through their tireless efforts and unwavering dedication to justice, they have not only practiced law but also changed lives for the better. The cases they have handled reflect the Clinic’s commitment to promoting justice and making a positive impact in the community.

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