Albany Law School students and faculty, in conjunction with several community partners, announced today the launch of a new initiative through which Albany Law students and supervising attorneys will provide legal resources to detained immigrants through presentations in English and Spanish.
The new initiative is, in part, a response to the recent reports regarding the impact of immigration enforcement on families and the placement of large numbers of children in foster care as a result of their parents having been detained or deported. It also responds to the current humanitarian crisis at the southern border, hoping to reunite children traveling alone with their family members in the United States.
“People have been coming to this country for a very long time, but our broken immigration system has lost the ability to keep families together and to address the plight of child refugees. This is something that we need to quickly and compassionately address,” said Professor Sarah Rogerson, co-director of the Albany Law Clinic & Justice Center.
“We are fortunate to be able to work with committed partners in the community, including Judge Victoria Graffeo, New York State Court of Appeals; Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple; and Joanne Macri of the New York Office of Indigent Legal Services," said Professor Rogerson.
“This is an excellent example of regional collaboration, bringing together representatives from law enforcement, higher education, the judiciary, and nonprofits to solve an important problem,” said Judge Graffeo, who graduated from Albany Law School in 1977. “It is also a wonderful opportunity for Albany Law students to provide much-needed legal services to a group of people that often lacks access to legal resources.”
"It is central to a humane and fair immigration enforcement system that families are kept intact," said Sheriff Apple. “This initiative is a critical part of that system, ensuring that everyone is adequately informed about their rights and options.”
The group presentations, which will begin during the fall 2014 semester, will be conducted in English and Spanish by Albany Law students and supervising attorneys. The law school is now actively seeking volunteer supervising attorneys to help with the project.
Within the Albany Law Clinic & Justice Center, Professor Rogerson is also the director of the Family Violence Litigation Clinic and Immigration Project, which includes legal services to domestic violence victims with unclear or undocumented immigration status.
Recent Albany Law graduates Chris Scoville and Kristin Rogers, both class of 2014, were instrumental in developing the initiative, and current third-year student Princy Abraham will serve as the student leader for the project through the law school’s pro bono program.