Fiat Justitia

          Justice is what you do.

          Why We Work For Justice
          The UC Hastings seal carries the words fiat justitia -- Let Justice Be Done. This motto is not a hollow promise; it is who we are and what we do.

          Law @UCHastings

          Engaged Scholarship

          SAN FRANCISCO (UC Hastings) - After 138 years of teaching law and producing first-class legal scholarship, we began to wonder if perhaps we are just a little too focused. Maybe we should look a little more like other institutions...
          Monday, April 16, 2018

          UC Hastings Students Debrief after Spring Break Visit to Immigration Detention Center

          Students share their experience volunteering with the Karnes Pro Bono Project to help provide free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant women and children at the Karnes County Residential Center near San Antonio, Texas.
          Sample alt tag.
          UC Hastings students Elizabeth Lincoln ‘18, Nathalie Camarena ‘19, and Lupita López Segoviano discuss their experiences with Professors Richard Boswell and Brittany Glidden.

          During last month’s spring break, UC Hastings students Elizabeth Lincoln ‘18, Griffin Estes ‘18, Nathalie Camarena ‘19, and Maria “Lupita” López Segoviano ’19 skipped the beachside resort and headed to Texas to participate as volunteers with the Karnes Pro Bono Project. This program, conducted through the 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency RAICES, promotes justice by providing free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families, and refugees at the Karnes County Residential Center.

          The students worked under the supervision of RAICES attorneys, who offer free legal services to women and children at the family unit detention center operated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The facility houses up to 800 women and their young children (“residents”) who are classified as "family units" after crossing the border into the United States. “We saw children ranging in ages from as young as a few months old to seventeen years old,” recalls Elizabeth. “The women are often fleeing severe domestic violence, threats, or other violence."

          Commuting from a nearby hotel in the small town of Karnes, the students would spend their days (10am to 7pm) at the detention center. Their primary duty was to help prepare the mothers for their credible fear interview, which is conducted by an asylum officer and determines whether an applicant and her child are able to stay in the United States while they apply for asylum. It is the first step towards getting out of the detention center and legally entering the United States.

          “We spent about an hour with each client discussing the major prongs of her asylum claim: why did she flee her country, from whom was she fleeing, why was that person or group persecuting her, did she try to get help from the local police or government, and why the United States is safer than relocating within to her country,” says Elizabeth.

          The students not only gained legal experience, but also witnessed firsthand some of the challenges facing detainees in immigration centers, such as difficulties in communicating with pro bono counsel. “I was surprised to discover the amount of women and children that spoke indigenous languages,” says Nathalie. “You would need to call a translation service that charged the pro bono organization by the minute. Even then, some clients would not understand a specific dialect, which made it difficult to build trust with them and let them know that we were trying to help them.”

          Griffin was most struck by the realization that these women and their children were confined in these conditions without ever breaking a law. “What many people don’t realize is that the women detained at Karnes did not commit a crime,” he says. “I hope that more people come to see these detention centers for what they are, and that we begin to treat asylum seekers with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

          Witnessing the daily challenges the women were facing helped the students to admire the strength of the clients they were serving. “I was born in Mexico and emigrated to the U.S. at 9 years old,” says Lupita. “I tried to imagine myself in the overwhelming position the women found themselves in and realized that if not for luck in being born to different circumstances, this could be any of us.”

          “The mothers that we met at the Karnes detention center are some of the strongest women I have ever met. It is incredibly powerful experience to spend a week at the detention center and witness how individuals are treated while they are searching for protection and pursuing legal immigration avenues into the United States,” says Elizabeth.

          Each student was extremely grateful to the UC Hastings community for making financial contributions to enable this trip to happen and recommend students participate in this worthwhile experience next year. “Even though I don’t plan on practicing immigration law, going on this trip allowed me to learn so much and immediately use that knowledge to personally benefit someone at that moment,” says Lupita. “It is very powerful and we don't really have many opportunities for this in law school.”

          How to volunteer with RAICES:

          RAICES is always looking for volunteers, especially individuals who want to gain experience in immigration law and speak Spanish or Portuguese. For those interested in volunteering or donating, please click here.


          Go to News Archive

          Share this Story

          Share via Facebook
          Share via TwitterShare via EmailPrint Friendly Version

          Other Recent Stories/ RSS

          Thursday, July 12, 2018

          A Q&A with Andrew Scott, UC Hastings College of the Law’s New Director of Human Resources

          "It's about everyone, as part of the team, being excited about the end goal and understanding that they play a big part in it."
          Friday, July 06, 2018

          Joe Veith '08 Defends Parents Separated from Children at Border

          He is on the front line of the family separation crisis in El Paso, Texas.
          Tuesday, July 03, 2018

          Thinkers & Doers: June 2018

          Inside the battle to save California’s water – Addressing rampant pregnancy discrimination at companies – Say Yes to Pro Bono – Enough with the racist gestures at the World Cup – Alum invests in properties to house the homeless in LA – Back to the Dark Ages of Rights for Women? – Hastings Law Journal article cited by Supreme Court – and much more
          Monday, June 25, 2018

          California Invests $4.5 Million in UC Hastings Diversity Pipeline Collaboration

          Initial offering of the “California Scholarship” at UC Hastings covers tuition, majority of living costs in San Francisco for students from HBCUs, AUA.
          Monday, June 25, 2018

          In Defense of Government Designation of Protected Areas

          "Now is not the time to turn away from a strategy that has produced such demonstrable progress," writes Professor John Leshy, former Solicitor of the U.S. Department of the Interior, with Wyss Foundation President Molly McUsic.
          Go to News Archive