Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Brushing up your Spanish the Michel Thomas Way

Photo by Jim Block

Michel Thomas was an extraordinary man. Born in Poland in 1914, Thomas left the country as a young man, studying in Germany and France in an effort to escape antisemitism. During WW2, he served in the French Resistance and ended up spending two years in French concentration camps. After the war, Thomas moved to the United States where he spent a lifetime teaching Hollywood stars to master foreign languages.

While Thomas passed away in 2005, his method for language learning lives on in audiotapes.

I was introduced to the Michel Thomas method by my colleague Lindsay Robertson. Lindsay knew that I was trying to brush up on my Spanish before heading to the immigration detention facility in Artesia, NM. In a past life, my Spanish was excellent. I studied through college - taking advanced literature courses and studying abroad. But it had been over a decade since I tried to use my skills.

I did many things to bring my Spanish back up to speed - and will post about them all, eventually. But without a doubt the most surprisingly effective tool was the Total Spanish series by Michel Thomas. 

The Thomas CDs are different from anything I've ever listened to before. You listen as he teaches two students how to speak Spanish. In effect, you are the third student in the room. It's extra fun because one of the students isn't very good and so you won't feel like the dunce in the room as you practice.

Thomas emphasizes practical communication skills - pointing out the thousands of words that are largely the same in English and Spanish. As a result, you end up with a much more sophisticated vocabulary that you would if you tried to learn words one at a time.

These langauge CDs are a truly effective tool, whether you are looking to learn Spanish for the first time or looking to brush up on skills you already have. I'd actually recommend that clinics around the country invest in a copy for their students to borrow. (OU has a set available for students in our International Human Rights Clinic.)

Finally, I should also note that Michel Thomas was a polyglot. His language CDs are not just available in Spanish but a multitude of other languages. 


January 6, 2015 in Books, Immigration Law Clinics, Music, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Be a Golden Gopher: The University of Minnesota Seeks an Immigration Fellow

It hardly seems fair for me to wax poetic about the immigration clinician job at UT without noting another wonderful clinic position at the University of Minnesota.

Here are the details:

The University of Minnesota Law School is seeking applicants for a clinical teaching fellowship beginning in the fall of 2015 with the Center for New Americans. The Center for New Americans is a comprehensive immigration law center composed of the three interrelated clinics: The Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, The Detainee Rights Clinic, and the Federal Immigration Litigation Clinic, as well as an education and outreach program. The Fellow will supervise students in representing clients and in advocacy projects, teach clinic seminar classes, and participate in the general development and functioning of the Center. For a detailed description and instructions on how to apply, go to employment.umn.edu/applicants/Central?quickFind=125032. The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity employer.

You, too, can join the wonderful immprofs Linus Chan, Stephen Meili, and Benjamin Casper. Go be a golden gopher in the Twin Cities.


December 3, 2014 in Immigration Law Clinics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The University of Texas Seeks An Immigration Clinician

Let me share a secret with you. I work at the University of Oklahoma but I have a secret affinity for the University of Texas, a bitter collegiate rival. My husband attended UT and we spent many of our early winters together rooting for UT at bowl games in So Cal. When we moved to Norman for my job, however, the bitterness of the OU-UT rivalry led to a complete purging of tee-shirts, hats, and car decals. We figured it would be hard enough for our kids to adjust to a new town without the added burden of supporting the Longhorns. Nonetheless, in our secret hearts, we continue to hold out hope that one day our boys might someday be a part of Plan II at UT.

So, it's a particular joy to share with you the news that UT is looking for an immigration clinician!

Here are the details as posted to FB by my former colleague Elizabeth Bangs:

The School of Law at the University of Texas at Austin has an opening for a clinical professor in the Immigration Clinic. The successful candidate will start in August 2015 and will join a community of over 25 faculty members who teach in the clinical program.

The opening is for a full-time, nine-month appointment. It is a non-tenure track position, with an initial one-year contract and thereafter a three-year, rolling, presumptively renewable contract.

The Immigration Clinic has been part of the Clinical Program at UT Law for sixteen years. The successful candidate will join the Immigration Clinic director, Clinical Professor Denise Gilman, in teaching and supervising Immigration Clinic students. The clinic’s faculty teaches substantive immigration law and provides instruction and guidance in legal advocacy techniques, while encouraging students to explore models for effective, ethical and collaborative lawyering. The clinical faculty provides mentorship and supervision for students but ensures that students take on the primary responsibility and decision-making authority for their cases. Approximately 16 students enroll in the clinic each semester, as new or advanced clinic students.

The Immigration Clinic represents vulnerable low-income immigrants from all over the world before the immigration and federal courts and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The clinic’s caseload varies each semester but is primarily focused on detention and deportation defense and asylum cases. In addition to handling a specific caseload, students in the clinic provide pro-se assistance and direct legal representation to migrants held at immigration detention centers, particularly asylum seekers held at the Hutto and Karnes detention facilities. Clinical faculty and students also engage in larger national and international human rights advocacy projects and collaborate with national organizations to reform and improve the rights of immigrants in the United States.

More information about the Immigration Clinic can be found here:

Responsibilities include:
- Co-teaching (with existing faculty) the classroom component of the clinic;
- Supervising students in their work on cases and other projects;
- Participating in the management of the clinic, including selection of students and budget decision-making;
- Selecting cases and projects for the clinic;
- Directly representing clients in proceedings before the Department of Homeland Security, the immigration court system and the federal courts;
- Engaging in service to the law school, the university, and the community, which may include serving on law school and university committees, participating in scholarly presentations or CLE programs, aiding law-reform efforts, serving as an expert for news media and other audiences as well as other activities.

- Member of any State Bar;
- At least five years of experience in immigration law and practice;
- Fluency in Spanish;
- A demonstrated interest in direct representation of migrants as well as systemic reform;
- Experience supervising law students and/or junior attorneys; and
- Teaching experience preferred.

Salary: In the $98,000 to $110,000 range for nine months, depending on experience.

Applications should be submitted by email, by December 22, 2014, to:
Denise Gilman
Immigration Clinic
University of Texas
School of Law
727 East Dean Keeton Street
Austin, TX 78705
(512) 232-1292
Please include a letter of interest, a resume or c.v., a writing sample, and the names of three references.

So there you have it - a great opportunity awaits you at an incredible school. Go join the good fight with the incomparable immprofs Barbara Hines and Denise Gilman! Hook 'em!


December 2, 2014 in Current Affairs, Immigration Law Clinics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Looking to break into clinical law teaching?

The University of Minnesota is accepting applications for a 2-year teaching fellowship with its Center for New Americans. The center emcompasses three interrelated clinics: The Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, The Detainee Rights Clinic, and the Federal Immigration Litigation Clinic.

It's a great opportunity for someone looking to break into clinical law teaching.


October 28, 2014 in Immigration Law Clinics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Immigrant Justice Clinic in Artesia

This past week, Professor Jayesh Rathod, Director of American University WCL's Immigrant Justice Clinic, traveled to Artesia, NM with eight of his clinic students. They spent the week working with women and children detained in New Mexico.

The clinic students made videos about their experiences. I think these two are particularly compelling and would make great additions to the classroom.

In the first video, a student talks about the sick children at Artesia.

In this second video, three students discuss the difficulties facing indigenous clients at Artesia, including translation issues.

Kudos for accomplishing what was clearly a terrific clinic experience!


October 26, 2014 in Current Affairs, Immigration Law Clinics, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Profile of Professor Deborah Anker

  Debbie anker

Harvard Magazine has a nice profile on immigration and refugee law professor Deborah Anker.  When Anker joined the Law School faculty in the mid 1980s, immigration law was not on the curriculum.  (I graduated from HLS in 1983 and can vouch for that.).  In addition to teaching the first full immigration-law course offered at the law school, Anker in 1984 co-founded the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program, a direct services clinic that engages students in representating asylum applicants.


October 23, 2014 in Current Affairs, Immigration Law Clinics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 17, 2014

2014 Rebellious Lawyering Conference San Francisco, California

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Women allege sexual abuse at Texas immigrant detention center

CNN reports that women detained at an immigration detention facility in Texas allege that employees there have sexually abused them, including by removing them from their cells at night for sex as well as fondling them in front of others, lawyers wrote in a letter to federal officials this week.

The allegations were detailed in a letter from several immigrant advocacy groups to officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security, which had hired one of America's for-private prison operators to run the facility. Zoe Carpenter in the Nation has an insightful story on the private detention companies and how they benefit for increases in immigrant detention.

"We call for an immediate investigation into these serious allegations of sexual abuse and the immediate protection of all women and children forced to reside in the facility," the letter, sent by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) on behalf of all the advocacy groups, reads.  ImmigrationProf reported on this letter earlier this week.

In a September 25 letter, the immigration clinic at the University of Texas School of Law asked federal immigration officials to investigate numerous complaints from detainees, including that children didn't have access to a variety of nutritious snacks between meals, that messages from attorneys weren't getting to their clients in a timely manner, and that -- although they had access to a nurse -- no doctor was on staff to handle significant medical issues such as respiratory infections and chronic illnesses.


October 5, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Immigration Law Clinics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

EOIR Proposes Changes to "List of Free Legal Services Providers"

The EOIR has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, seeking to amend 8 C.F.R. §§ 1003, 1240, and 1241.

One change is literally in name only. The EOIR wants to rename what is currently the "List of Free Legal Services Provides," re-titling it be the "List of Pro Bono Legal Services Providers." The change, they say,

reflects the relevant statutory language (see INA 208(d)(4)(B), 239(a)(1)(E), 239(b)(2)), describes more accurately the nature of the services provided, and will improve the integrity of the List. Further, removing the word “free” will clarify that entities and private attorneys on the List are not necessarily available to work free of charge for every alien regardless of the alien's financial means or the type of legal work involved. Rather, use of the term “pro bono” indicates that such services are for the public good, e.g., to help ensure qualified representation for those indigent aliens who do not have sufficient means to hire a private attorney.

The EOIR would also like to "enhance the eligibility requirements for organizations, private attorneys, and referral services to be included on the List of Pro Bono Legal Service Providers." Specifically they propose:

  • professional conduct standards
  • ability to provide pro bono legal services in association with organizations and referral services
  • minimum requirement of 50 pro bono hours per year
  • continuing certification
  • public participation

The impetus for these changes comes from

complaints from numerous government sources and the public that certain private attorneys may be using the List to advertise or solicit for paying clients, and do not provide legal representation to a significant number of aliens on a pro bono basis or for any particular amount of time

E-comments regarding this proposal are due by November 17, 2014.


September 17, 2014 in Current Affairs, Immigration Law Clinics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 4, 2014

U.C. Hastings Refugee and Human Rights Clinical Teaching Fellowship

The Refugee and Human Rights Clinic (RHRC), in collaboration with the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS), at U.C. Hastings is seeking applications for a two-year teaching fellowship (July 2015 - June 2017). The fellowship provides the opportunity to learn how to teach law in a clinical setting. The fellow will work under the supervision of the RHRC Director, Karen Musalo, and will share in the full-range of responsibilities of teaching the RHRC, including co-teaching the clinic seminar, and supervising the clinic students’ work.

Requirements for candidates:

Experience in asylum and immigration law (experience in human rights law is a plus, but not required)

Excellent academic record

Two to five years minimum practice experience, including some direct representation

Admission to a State bar

Excellent analytical and writing skills

Aptitude for student supervision

Prior teaching experience is a plus; and

Bilingual ability in Spanish is desirable

Salary and benefits: The Fellow will receive a salary of $52,000 per year, with full benefits, which includes health, dental and vision care insurance plans.

To apply: Send a resume, law school transcript, writing sample, and a statement of interest. The statement should address: 1) why you are interested in this fellowship; 2) how your experiences make you particularly suitable to contribute to the Refugee and Human Rights Clinic; 3) your specific experience with asylum, or other immigration cases, and/or international human rights litigation or advocacy; 4) your professional goals and how this fellowship is related to your longer-term goals; 5) your understanding of the objectives of clinical teaching.

Address your application to: Clinical Fellowship, Refugee and Human Rights Clinic, U.C. Hastings, 200 McAllister Street, San Francisco, CA 94102, and submit it electronically to rhrc@uchastings.edu. Please write in the subject line: your last name, RHRC Fellowship Application. The resume, law school transcript, writing sample and statement of interest should be sent as attachments to your email.

Deadline for applications: Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis as they are submitted, with a deadline of November 1, 2014.


August 4, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Immigration Law Clinics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Toolkit for Withholding

Immigration Clinic on the front lines of immigration battle


The Associated Press released a nice story about the University of Baltimore School of Law's Immigrant Rights Clinic and its director, Professor Elizabeth Keyes.  "Keyes said some of the most compelling cases are those of children who cross the U.S. border illegally, sometimes without family members accompanying them, and often fleeing gang violence."  Its not easy for all of them to get access to legal representation, especially for those who are detained at the border, Keyes said.

Keyes shares her clinic’s space (and, on occasion, some of its student-lawyers) with the Baltimore office of Kids in Need of Defense, a nonprofit organization that seeks to ensure no unaccompanied immigrant minor must appear in immigration court without representation. In its offices across the country, KIND recruits and trains attorneys who will take immigrant minors’ cases pro bono.


August 4, 2014 in Current Affairs, Immigration Law Clinics | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Witnessing Justice: Transgender Woman Granted Asylum in Baltimore by FOBR


This guest post on Lifted Lamp by Liz Keyes, who directs the Immigrant Rights Clinic at the University of Baltimore, recounts the case of a young woman from Honduras, born male but always feeling female inside, won asylum after suffering relentless torment from her earliest days until she fled at age 17.


November 22, 2013 in Current Affairs, Immigration Law Clinics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Southern District of Texas Leading in Record Year for Immigration Prosecutions

Texas alwas does things larger than life.  The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during the first six months of FY 2013 the government reported 50,468 new immigration prosecutions. If this activity continues at the same pace, the annual total of prosecutions will be 100,936 for this fiscal year. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this estimate is up 9.8% over the past fiscal year when the number of prosecutions totaled 91,941.


May 13, 2013 in Current Affairs, Immigration Law Clinics | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Human Rights Clinical Fellow Position at the University of Chicago Law School

The University of Chicago Law School is seeking qualified applicants for a full-time position training and supervising law students as a Fellow, appointed with the rank of Lecturer, in the Law School’s International Human Rights (IHR) Clinic. The position will begin June 1, 2013, or later. The appointment is for one year, but reappointment for a second term is also possible. The IHR Clinic works for the promotion of social and economic justice globally, including in the United States. The IHR Clinic uses international human rights laws and norms as well as other substantive law and strategies to draw attention to human rights violations, develop practical solutions to those problems using interdisciplinary methodologies, and promote accountability on the part of state and non-state actors. IHR Clinic projects include litigation in domestic, foreign, and international tribunals, as well as non-litigation projects, such as documenting violations, legislative reform, drafting reports, and training manuals.  Click here for details.


May 2, 2013 in Current Affairs, Immigration Law Clinics | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Staff Attorney Position, Stanford Law School Immigrants' Rights Clinic

The Mills Legal Clinic of Stanford Law School invites applicants for a staff attorney position with its Immigrants' Rights Clinic ("IRC"). The Staff Attorney will join the thriving clinical community at Stanford Law School where, together with the clinical faculty and staff, she or he will help train law students to work on immigrants' rights litigation and advocacy. The IRC represents individual noncitizen clients in a variety of matters, including immigration court proceedings on behalf of noncitizens with criminal convictions, applications to secure status for noncitizen survivors of domestic violence, and asylum cases. The IRC also litigates immigrants' rights cases in the federal courts, including habeas petitions on behalf of detained noncitizens, appeals in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and other federal courts of appeals, and other impact litigation on behalf of noncitizens challenging Department of Homeland Security policies. In addition to its litigation work, the IRC conducts advocacy on behalf of immigrants' rights organizations in a variety of areas, including advocating for immigrants in detention, working alongside local organizations in grassroots organizing, developing and distributing know-your-rights materials, legislative and regulatory advocacy, international human rights advocacy, and enabling immigrants' rights groups to access legal services. 

Click here for the full position posting.


February 25, 2013 in Current Affairs, Immigration Law Clinics | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Clinical Law Fellow, Immigration Law Clinic, UMass Dartmouth Law School

The Clinical Fellow in the Immigration Law Clinic at the University of Massachusetts School of Law—Dartmouth will work in the Immigration Law Clinic on student supervision, client representation, teaching, developing and enhancing community involvement and advocacy, and occasionally appellate work. The Fellow will work closely with experienced attorneys, clinicians, and academics at the Law School.

For the complete job description, please go here.

MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS: Juris Doctorate; Admission to the Massachusetts Bar or eligibility to be waived into practice in Massachusetts upon assuming clinical responsibilities; Previous student/staff experience in a law clinic; however, no prior position as Clinical Law Fellow or one substantially similar. Evening and weekend hours and travel as required. T

o apply please send a letter of interest, current resume and the contact information for three professional references to : Search for Clinical Law Fellow-Law School, Office of Human Resources,285 Old Westport Rd., North Dartmouth, MA 02747. The deadline to apply is April 1, 2013.


February 25, 2013 in Current Affairs, Immigration Law Clinics | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Immigration and Child Welfare Clinician-Scholars Featured at the Hofstra Symposium on Immigrants and the Family Court

As previously announced on this blog, Theo Liebmann and Lauris Wren at Hofstra Law School put together a fantastic symposium on Immigrants and the Family Court, which was timed with the release of a special issue of the Family Court Review published by Wiley-Blackwell in conjunction with the symposium.  The special issue and the symposium featured a number of immigration and child welfare clinicians whose scholarly work has brought much-needed attention to what Theo and Lauris dubbed, "unique challenges presented by working with families and children who are immigrants - both documented and undocumented - and the complex interplay between immigration issues and the family court's obligations to serve the families and children who come before it." 

Braving post-Sandy clean-up and gas rationing, the symposium drew an impressive number and diversity of participants, including representatives from stakeholders in the immigration, family justice and child welfare systems as well as advocates, scholars and journalists.  The day opened with a keynote address by The Honorable Edwina G. Richardson-Mendelson, the Administrative Judge of the New York City Family Court.  The first two panels focused on the basics of immigration law for family law practitioners and improving how family courts serve immigrant youth and families.  The latter panel, moderated by Veronica Thronson, Director of the Immigration Law Clinic at Michigan State, featured Bernard Perlmutter, Co-Director of the Children & Youth Law Clinic at U Miami and Jennifer Baum, Director of the Child Advocacy Clinic at St. John's.  Veronica's article, "'Til Death Do Us Part: Affidavits of Support and Obligations to Immigrant Spouses" and Jennifer's article, "Most in Need But Least Served: Legal and Practical Barriers to Special Immigrant Juvenile Status for Federally Detained Minors" were both featured in the special issue.  The afternoon concluded with a panel on collateral immigration consequences of family court proceedings and featured Associate Professor of Clinical Law, Dan Smulian who teaches the Safe Harbor Project at Brooklyn Law. 

The afternoon featured two panels addressing how undocumented status affects children and families and the future of special immigrant juvenile status.  I was excited to present my article, "Unintended and Unavoidable: The Failure to Protect Rule and Its Consequences for Undocumented Parents and their Children" on an interdisciplinary panel featuring a journalist and a sociologist.  Journalist Seth Freed Wessler whose groundbreaking report, "Shattered Families" is so regularly relied upon by legal scholars, and Jorge M. Chavez, a sociology professor at Bowling Green State University whose research focuses on the impact of unauthorized status on children's well-being, presented their work.  Jorge's findings about the adverse impact of undocumented status on family stress, health outcomes, and educational attainment, may prove useful in future legal scholarship on this issue.  The second panel featured two clinicians, Alison Kamhi, Clinical Teaching Fellow in the Immigrant Rights' Clinic at Stanford and Randi Mandelbaum, Director of the Child Advocacy Clinic at Rutgers-Newark.  Alison co-wrote the SIJ article with Jennifer for the special issue, which also featured Randi's article, "Disparate Outcomes: The Quest for Uniform Treatment of Immigrant Children."

The highlight of the symposium was the closing session.  Closing remarks delivered by a leading scholar on the intersection of immigration and family law, David Thronson, co-founder of the Immigration Law Clinic at Michigan State, focused on how immigration law and policy actively devalues children who are defined mainly by their relationship to adults.  Howard Davidson of the American Bar Association presented best-practices for improving the experience of undocumented immigrants in family courts and the child welfare system, offering some pragmatic solutions for policy makers and advocates.  But the star of the session was a formerly undocumented teen who, along with Lauren Burke - a staff attorney at the New York Asian Women's Center, gave a beautiful and touching spoken word performance from the perspective of an undocumented youth trying to find her way out of an abusive household despite the odds of the immigration system being stacked against her.  The performance highlighted the work of Atlas: DIY, a cooperative empowerment center for immigrant youth and their allies.  

Check out all of the articles, including a note about ethical advocacy for immigrant survivors of family crisis by Theo Liebmann, at the Wiley Online Library.  The full agenda, including additional presentations by staff attorneys and advocates in the field, is available here.

-- Sarah Rogerson

December 13, 2012 in Current Affairs, Immigration Law Clinics | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Profile Your Immigration Law Clinic

Do you want to post a profile of your law school's immigration law clinic on the ImmigrationProf blog?  If so, please feel free to send me (krjohnson@ucdavis.edu) a profile with information about the clinic -- and perhaps pictures and a story or two about a recent case.


December 5, 2012 in Film & Television, Immigration Law Clinics | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

UCI Immigration Clinic Prevails in Defending Rights of Immigrant Workers

Eighteen hotel employees reached a $130,000 settlement with HEI Hotels and Resorts over denial of meal and rest breaks required by California law. The settlement arose from claims filed with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement by employees of the Hilton Long Beach and Executive Meeting Center, owned and managed by HEI.

In hearings before the Labor Commissioner, workers described facing direct pressure from supervisors to work through meals and to skip rest breaks to keep up with increasingly heavy workloads. Some employees suffered injuries due to the unremitting nature of their work. Employees in the hotel’s kitchen, restaurant, room service, banquet services and housekeeping departments stepped forward to participate in the legal action. Most of the workers are “back of the house” monolingual Spanish speakers.

Under California law, employers must establish practices that do not discourage workers from exercising their right to full 30-minute meal periods and 10-minute rest breaks. The workers, current and former Long Beach Hilton employees, were supported in their efforts by UNITE HERE Local 11 and represented by the UC Irvine School of Law-Immigrant Rights Clinic and Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center.

"Like many at the hotel, I worked through my breaks for years while rushing from room to room changing beds and scrubbing floors," said Maria Patlan, a Hilton housekeeper. "I hope this money will help teach the Hilton Long Beach a lesson in how to treat people like me."


"Through persuasive testimony and painstaking analysis of time records, workers, law students, and public interest lawyers overcame the odds in a challenging area of the law. They showed that groups of employees with dedicated legal support can hold employers accountable for worsening conditions of work in the low-wage sector," said Sameer Ashar, Director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic at UC Irvine School of Law.

Click here for more details.


November 28, 2012 in Current Affairs, Immigration Law Clinics | Permalink | TrackBack (0)