A WORD FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
I hope this newsletter finds you well in the midst of all that is going on…
With COVID-19 it is not business as usual at KGACLC. For over 25 years, KGACLC has prided itself on being available by telephone, in person, and in the community for clients; many of whom have not had access to the technology prevalent in Silicon Valley. The current environment has changed the service delivery model but not KGACLC’s resolve to assist clients while providing a rich learning experience for students.
Soon after the shelter-in-place was announced, KGACLC shifted to remote teaching and legal services, utilizing Zoom, a VPN, telephones, volunteer attorneys, and new protocols to ensure confidentiality. KGACLC continues regularly scheduled advice clinics for low-income individuals with immigration, consumer, and workers’ rights matters – and have served close to 70 clients seeking advice remotely. Law students also maintain an active caseload in the practice areas – including filing applications, propounding discovery, and negotiating settlements. One such negotiation resulted in $25,000 in savings for a client in just the past few weeks.
KGACLC firmly holds both parts of our mission – educating law students and serving the low-income community. We knew we had to keep the critical legal services going, but we also had to be there for our students. Graduating student Nghi Nguyen shared, “KGACLC provides me with the resources to work on my cases and ensures that I continue to receive support and mentorship to thrive. Professor Parker checks in with us on a weekly basis, and paralegal Margarita Sandoval provides support as well. It is difficult to put everything in one sentence but I am certainly grateful for the help. Especially, as a 4L, this program is critical for me to graduate on time, and KGACLC and the school are making that goal possible.”
When the pandemic is over it won’t be back to business as usual for KGACLC. Despite all the challenges of this time, we want to hold onto what is good. We are learning a great deal and envision offering some aspects of client services remotely even after the shelter in place is lifted, creating even greater access. The encouraging pieces below provide a glimpse of the way we provide legal services for our immigrant population during COVID-19. A positive of this time is being able to stay connected to clients; they know that KGACLC is there, even in the most challenging situations. Our students are modeling excellence in community lawyering.
We hope our work inspires you to journey with us through this crisis as we continue to educate, advocate, and serve. We appreciate your continued support. Be safe, be well, and be blessed.
Deborah Moss West JD ’94
SERVICE BEYOND OUR REGION – SPRING BREAK BORDER TRIP
Law Center Prof. Lynette Parker and Prof. Evangeline Abriel organized a Spring Break Border trip to Tucson, Arizona – to assist the nonprofit Florence Immigration and Refugee Rights Project (FIRRP) with legal services work on behalf of detained immigrant children and adults. With the generous support of alumni, and after a day and a half of trainings, Santa Clara Law students Osvaldo Hidalgo Otamendi, Chloe Czabaranek, Deisy Salas, S. Coleman, Rigoberto Lua, Victor Valdez Gonzalez, Vasti Montiel, Ruby Palomares and the Professors departed for Arizona on March 7, 2020. Read more about their caring journey here.
IMMIGRATION STUDENTS SERVING REMOTELY
Working through cell-phones, online tools, and regular mail, Santa Clara law students and KGACLC staff continue to screen over a dozen clients at each of our Immigration Advice Clinics. While the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has suspended in-person interviews, the USCIS officers are receiving and processing applications. Thus, our law students are as vigilant as ever, maintaining active cases and preparing and filing applications on behalf of the Law Center’s immigration clients. Law students are key to everything KGACLC does, “Right from the beginning, the students jumped on board and adjusted to the changes beautifully. They’re always asking what else can I do or are there any other clients we can help. They [the students] are truly amazing and inspiring,” says Margarita Sandoval.
Law students share their experience working in the remote environment:
The Katharine & George Alexander Community Law Center has the unique opportunity of educating law students to be social justice advocates while serving the legal needs of the low-income community in the areas of consumer law, workers’ rights, and immigration. Through educational workshops, advice clinics, and direct legal representation, KGACLC serves over 1,000 clients annually. Each October, the Law Center holds an event to celebrate our commitment to teaching, service, and advocacy while recognizing those who make our work possible. Watch your email for details on how we will commemorate another year of service this fall.
YOUR VOLUNTEER & FINANCIAL SUPPORT WILL HELP KGACLC:
Wishing you well in the midst of challenging times. We are all in this together.
Katharine & George Alexander Community Law Center
Phone: (408) 288-7030 | Fax: (408) 288-3581