Blog Entry 8

Posted by David Koelsch
David Koelsch
David C. Koelsch is an Associate Professor and Director of the Immigration Law C
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on Thursday, 20 October 2011
in Faculty Blogs

The best way to learn all there is to know about a particular topic is to teach and to live it.  This week, students in the Immigration Law Clinic prepared for and conducted a training session at the Chaldean Federation of America to help the staff at the CFA understand immigration law and procedures.  The students explained the nuances of filing an Alien Relative Petition, an Application for Adjustment of Status and an Application for Naturalization. 

The students were already somewhat conversant in the preparation of these documents because they had prepared several on behalf of Clinic clients.  Teaching non-lawyers about the applications was a serious challenge but the students pulled it off and the staff at the CFA is now better able to field questions regarding the forms.  UDM’s Immigration Law Clinic partners with several nonprofits serving the immigrant community, including the CFA, to be a resource for the nonprofits for legal advice and case referrals.

Students have also been preparing a client for an interview at the Asylum Office in Chicago next Thursday.  These are not fun roadtrips with stops for shopping along the Miracle Mile.  We leave Detroit at 4:00 a.m., drive to Chicago, continue prepping the client in the car along the drive, endure a 2-3 hour exhaustive interview, and then get right back in the car for the long drive home, which we will be lucky to reach by midnight.  The return trip will include a stop at the Calhoun County Jail in Battle Creek to meet with a detained client.

The Asylum Office interview will determine the future of our client.  He has an unusually complex factual and legal case and the students have been researching to find applicable cases, laws and regulations that can be used to support their client’s claim for asylum.  At the interview, the students will function as lawyers, assisting with the interview and, at the end, deliver closing statements reciting the law, the client’s testimony and why asylum should be granted.

The ability of students in UDM’s clinical programs to advance their education, serve clients and fulfill the broader mission of the Law School and University is special and unique.  In line with the teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the clinical programs present an opportunity for law students to serve others and to reflect on the gifts they have been given that makes that service possible.  Did I mention that it’s also (mostly) fun to devote one’s innate skills, hard-sought education and personal drive to winning a client’s case?

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About the author

David Koelsch

David C. Koelsch is an Associate Professor and Director of the Immigration Law Clinic and the Asylum Law Clinic at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. The Immigration Law Clinic represents immigrants on a variety of legal issues, including abandoned immigrant children and abused immigrant women. Professor Koelsch also teaches U.S. Immigration Law and a comparative U.S.-Canada Immigration Law course as well as a Seminar on Spirituality and the Law. Koelsch was named the 2009 Outstanding Immigration Law Professor by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.