The William & Mary Class of 2022 was superlative in almost every measure. This year, more students than ever before enrolled in Immigration Clinic I and II. With the increased enrolment, the Clinic accepted more clients for representation this year than ever before. The Clinic’s caseload more than doubled in order to accommodate the needs of resettled Afghans, while also responding to increased need in immigrant communities already living in Hampton Roads.
The Class of 2022 was integral to a major milestone for the Clinic: since opening, the Immigration Clinic staff and students have provided over $2 million dollars of pro bono legal services.
Over the course of the year, students enrolled in the Clinic represented immigrants in Hampton Roads on a variety of immigration matters, including affirmative and defensive asylum, U Visas for victims of crime, DACA applications, petitions for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, petitions for the Removal of Conditions on Lawful Permanent Residency, and naturalization. They also screened many more immigrants for potential relief. In their casework, students spent hours preparing and conducting interviews, drafting affidavits, motions, and briefs, and researching country conditions. This year also marks the first time that Clinic students have returned to court since the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to their case work, students wrote blog posts to educate the public about immigration law and the Clinic’s work.
Students in the Clinic were on the front lines of the world’s biggest refugee crises. Students enrolled in Immigration Clinic I and II worked on cases for Afghan parolees over the course of the school year, including casework and research for those trying to leave Afghanistan through humanitarian parole, and those seeking asylum, permanent status for Afghans and their families who assisted the US military, and protections for abused children. All students in the Clinic, regardless of whether or not their clients were from Afghanistan, were trained on Special Immigrant Visas and Temporary Protected Status, particularly as these protections apply in the context of Afghan and Ukrainian refugees.
Members of the Class of 2022 from other departments at William & Mary were also integral to the Clinic’s accomplishments. As interns, undergraduate students from the Class of 2022 conducted research on census data in Hampton Roads, prepared work permit filings, conducted country conditions research, and translated essential documents for clients’ cases. Graduate and doctoral students from the School of Education provided mental health support to Clinic clients through the Pathways to Hope Partnership. These graduate students also wrote letters of support for Clinic clients’ cases, a critical piece of evidence in cases involving mental harm, abuse, and persecution.
“It has been an incredible year in the Immigration Clinic,” said Professor Stacy Kern-Scheerer, Director of the Immigration Clinic. “This class of students has gone above and beyond at every turn. We will miss them and their dedication to the Clinic and their clients. I am so proud of the work they have done, and how much they have grown into committed advocates who are prepared to take on the challenges of practice.”
Special thanks to the Class of 2022 for their dedication to the rights of immigrants in Hampton Roads. We are appreciative for your work for our community and for your dedication as the next generation of advocates.