Clinic project helps unaccompanied immigrant children
December 4, 2012
Children are among the most vulnerable parties in the legal system and often lack legal counsel, especially in an immigration context. On behalf of client Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) and as part of their work at the Center for Immigrants' Rights, Penn State Law students (now attorneys) Nick Quesenberry ’11 and Tayler Summers ’12 helped create training materials on U and T Visas. Their contribution became part of a recently finalized training manual for pro bono attorneys who take on cases through KIND.
“Kids in Need of Defense: KIND benefited tremendously from our partnership with the Center,” said Megan McKenna, Communications and Advocacy director at KIND. “The work the Center did on our training manual will contribute greatly to the quality of legal services that are provided to unaccompanied immigrant children.”
Focusing on U and T Visas, Summers and Quesenberry reviewed and researched related legal standards, treatises, and related materials. They also spoke with relevant stakeholders throughout the United States, including government personnel, members of the private bar, NGOs and others, to gather information on cases, best practices and other tips for zealously representing children who are potentially eligible for U and T visas.
For Summers, personal contact with KIND was key. "There is no substitute for actual client contact. Because of the clinic, I had the tremendous opportunity to speak and communicate with our client and other stakeholders almost daily. The experience made me aware of just how important it is to have this experience. The other aspect of this valuable opportunity was the chance to become extremely familiar with an interesting and important form of immigration relief: the U and the T visas," said Summers, who now works in fundraising and development at Centro Hispano, a nonprofit organization in Provo, Utah.
Quesenberry appreciated the wide-ranging impact of their efforts. "I was privileged to work on a project that stands to help possibly hundreds of pro bono practitioners marshal the resources they need to provide valuable legal assistance to unaccompanied noncitizen minors in the U.S. The work was challenging, but gratifying, and helped me grow as a legal professional,” said Quesenberry, who is now a judicial law clerk in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of New York.
The project was completed under the supervision of Professor Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, director of the Center for Immigrants' Rights.
Founded by the Microsoft Corporation and Angelina Jolie, KIND is a pro bono movement of law firms, corporate law departments, NGOs and volunteers committed to providing fair, competent and compassionate legal counsel to unaccompanied immigrant children in the United States. KIND has an infrastructure of pro bono coordinators who assign, monitor, mentor and coordinate legal representation provided by law firms and corporate legal departments in targeted cities throughout the United States. Their efforts are focused on putting resources to work where unaccompanied children are alone and at-risk.