Our Story, Our Services
The Immigration Law Clinic serves a unique role in the Capital Region, leveraging its many partnerships to dramatically increase the impact of its resources. In the world of pro bono legal services, there is often a lag between the emergence of an issue and the ability of traditional nonprofits to respond because their time is committed to the goals of existing funding and their staff members are already working at capacity.
The Immigration Law Clinic is able to create flexible surge capacity for this work, in part because of our community connections, but also because we are able to harness student energy, time, and interest to mitigate the access to justice gap for immigrants in New York State.
In addition to the immediate impact of the services this clinic provides, the community gains the benefit of the education those experiences provide for our students. Those students go on to serve our communities as skilled professionals who are well versed in public interest work. Investments in the work we do now will pay off for generations.
- When over 300 refugees were brought to the Albany County Correctional Facility from the border in 2018, the Immigration Law Clinic sprang into action to triage their legal needs.
Working together with legal services non-profits, the private bar and law enforcement, the effort which became known as the Detention Outreach Project ultimately secured a positive outcome for more than 95% of the refugees they served.
This effort was the culmination of relationships established five years prior by students who approached Professor Rogerson with a somewhat radical idea: to provide intake and referral services to detained immigrants and their families who were being held in the county jail, a prescient idea now reflected in the effort to guarantee counsel to immigrants across New York State.
- In March 2019, Kinimo Ngoran—the Capital City Rescue Mission chef who was arrested during a routine U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement check-in—was released from a detention center in Batavia, N.Y., ending a six-week ordeal that nearly resulted in his deportation.
The outcome was made possible by the work of his legal team, which included nearly a dozen students from The Justice Center at Albany Law School’s Immigration Law Clinic, the community-based non-profit Rapid Defense Network and Professor Sarah Rogerson.
The clinic leveraged the same partnerships to work on several other emergency removal defense cases, including one in which a client was unlawfully separated from his family by immigration authorities at the local immigration office in Latham, New York.
The immigrant poor in the Capital District and its rural neighboring counties to the south are underrepresented and are therefore disadvantaged.
Aside from funding limited to cases of detained immigrants facing deportation (NYFIUP), funding for civil legal services in the Capital District is disproportionate to the demand for such services.
The Justice Center at Albany Law School has seen an increase in calls over the last several years from immigrants who have been impacted by the federal government’s anti-immigrant policies, individuals at imminent risk of deportation, deferred action for childhood arrival recipients (DACA), and others who have not been able to locate affordable legal counsel.
The clinic launched with funding from the New York State Legislature in the SFY 2015-2016 Budget. Assemblyman Marcos Crespo (Bronx), recognizing individuals with immigration issues live throughout New York State, requested that the Assembly support funding for the ILC at $150,000.
This Assembly-supported funding has been renewed at the same amount each year again with the leadership of Assemblywoman Maritza Davila, Speaker Heastie and the NYS Assembly Puerto Rican Hispanic Taskforce.
Most recently, this Clinic was provided an additional one-time $20,000 award in the SFY 2019-2020 budget from Senator Neil Breslin in recognition of our leadership in the Capital District and beyond. Although we are incredibly grateful for the support received each year to continue the great work of the Immigration Law Clinic, state programmatic funding would provide a more stable and robust level of support. To make additional headway toward meeting demand, we annually request funding closer to $500,000.
Taught more than 16 law students through the Immigration Law Clinic, representing more than 25-30 individuals and providing Know Your Rights presentations to a number of community groups and stakeholders throughout the Capital District
Partnered with a major national law firm to provide remote representation to three families comprised of nine men, women, and children seeking asylum at the U.S./Mexico border.
Trained hundreds of child welfare professionals, judges, law enforcement, stakeholders, and volunteer attorneys re: current and emerging trends in immigration.