It felt like it came more quickly than possible, but the final day of the Spring Break Border Project was upon us. After a week packed with meetings with different teams within Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, the majority of our final day was spent working on the finishing touches of our assignments. While we have all been working remotely this week, all of the students remained on a Zoom call with Professor Parker and Professor Abriel while working on the assignment, allowing us to collaborate and receive guidance when it was needed.

After wrapping out our final edits we met with Camilo to virtually “hand over” the work we accomplished this week, and to debrief the Legal Orientation Program (LOP) hotline. Throughout the week, the SCU law students shadowed a Florence Project staff member while they did intake through the LOP hotline. The hotline came into being during COVID in order to meet the need of getting information to individuals in immigration proceedings. Watching staff take calls back-to-back and do intake interviewing the incoming callers, with compassion and efficiency, was not only extremely informative but also served as an illustration of the continuous nature of the work they perform.

Our final meeting of the week was the Cafecito with the DART (Direct Action and Response Team). An important discussion topic throughout the week was self-care and taking the time to nurture your own mental health in order to be as long lasting and impactful as possible. Having the opportunity to not only learn about what these people do, but the why behind their work was wonderful. Being exposed to the wealth of experiences and the different paths everyone took into Immigration Law was so valuable. Having candid and open dialogue about how to tackle the challenges faced and celebrate the victories was insightful and gave a new perspective into the work immigration lawyers perform, and the multi-faceted complexities of the job.

Personally, I gained more from this week-long experience than I could have ever imagined. Going into this, I was not sure what to expect. The hands-on experience, partnered with informational sessions, and the personal touch of Florence Project staff exceeded all expectations. I am so thankful that the Florence Project team welcomed into their space, shared their work with us, and allowed us insight into their passion, tenacity, empathy, creativity, compassion, and drive.

Thank you to the Florence Immigration Refugee and Rights Project!

Kaitlyn Fontaine
JD Candidate 2023

2021 virtual border service trip