Immigration Law Pro Bono Society Earns NYSBA President's Award

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The Immigration Law Pro Bono Society at Albany Law School was selected for a New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) President's Pro Bono Service Award for its work assisting the United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) for providing critical legal services to Afghan refugees resettling in Albany County.

The annual awards are bestowed in honor of Law Day, the first day of May, to groups and individuals in New York State that completed exceptional pro bono work.

Starting last fall, Jacob Mantey ’22, Justice Center and Immigration Law Clinic Director Prof. Sarah Rogerson, Immigration Law Clinic Staff Attorney Lauren DesRosiers, and Albany Law student volunteers triaged hundreds of USCRI intake calls.

Albany County, USCRI, Justice Center Press Conference

Each call required hours of fact gathering, legal research, case management, scheduling, tracking, and interpretation services. In many situations, interpreters and translators for Pashto and Dari – Afghanistan’s two most common languages – were needed. In February, Albany County Legislature Chairman Andrew Joyce, Legislator Carolyn McLaughlin, and the County Executive’s Office presented $50,000 to assist USCRI’s legal work on behalf of Afghan evacuees.

Mantey, President of the Immigration Law Pro Bono Society and the founding President of the student-run Immigration Law Society, has served two semesters in the Immigration Law Clinic. During his undergraduate years at Siena College, he was an intern at New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s office, where he fielded calls from constituents about immigration issues.

“It is incredible to see the collective work of all the students who stepped up to help, the faculty and staff who supported us, and the community partners who made this work possible be recognized,” Mantey said. “We did this together and we did it for the common good of our community—for those who were fleeing, or attempting to flee, violence. We took care of each other and in solidarity set out to do whatever we could to aid an ongoing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.”

The Award will be formally presented on May 2, 2022.