On March 7, 2020, eight law students, accompanied by Professors Lynette Parker and Evangeline Abriel, spent their spring break week volunteering at the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project in Arizona. These inspiring students were S. Coleman, Chloe Czabaranek, Osvaldo Hidalgo Otamendi, Rigoberto Lua, Vasti Montiel, Ruby Palomares, Deisy Salas, and Victor Valdez Gonzalez. During the week, they worked with detained, pro se asylum seekers to complete asylum applications, researched country conditions to support the applications, researched a number of intricate legal issues, made phone calls to arrange placements for minor immigrants, met with the dedicated Florence Project attorneys and staff, and observed court proceedings. The students recorded their experiences in the following blogs.

March 13, 2020

And we’re done!!!

The week has ended and so has our time at the Florence Project. Assignments have wrapped up and goodbyes are being said. We met some interesting people: including clients (children and adults), the FIRRP team, judges, federal defenders and prosecutors and locals. Friday was definitely my favorite day.

First: My favorite part of this trip was heading over to the Eloy Detention Center and handing over a finished country conditions packet to my client. I can rest easy knowing that even though he will not have representation, he at least has assistance navigating the complicated world of immigration law, in the form of a legal argument in paper written by someone with a legal education. Not only that, but it feels good knowing that the project I worked on will serve as a tool to ensure that at least one person has their day in court.

Second: the whole team did a lot of bonding this week, and what a better way to celebrate then to go get some food together and go karaoke-ing and dancing in downtown Tucson. It was a great evening full of reminiscing about the work we did this week, and fun as a reward for jobs well done. We will never forget all the great work we did this week, and the camaraderie we shared.

A big thank you to the Florence Project for being so welcoming and for giving us the opportunity to help out such a marginalized group in our community. It is through work like this that we live and share our Santa Clara Jesuit Values with the world.