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    09.29.17 Brooklyn Law School Mobilizes to Support Immigrants
    Brooklyn Law School Mobilizes to Support Immigrants

    Responding to tougher U.S. immigration policies, students, faculty, and staff headed to the village of Brewster in Putnam County, N.Y., on Sept. 29, to provide free legal screenings for immigrants at a Community Legal Clinic hosted by Catholic Charities Community Services of the Archdiocese of New York. The initiative, which will also send volunteers from the law school to Peekskill, N.Y., on Oct. 20, is the latest in a series of outreach efforts by Brooklyn Law School’s students and faculty, and alumni, to assist New York’s immigrant population.

    In a year that has seen a proposed border wall, Executive Orders to end DACA and to ban immigrants from countries with majority Muslim populations, and support for a “skills-based” immigration policy, the new group Brooklyn Law Alumni, Students, and Teachers for Immigration, or “Imm.BLAST,” has organized a number of projects to help immigrants. In this instance, Imm.BLAST, working with Professors Maryellen Fullerton, an expert on asylum and refugee law, and Stacy Caplow, an expert in immigration law who co-directs the Safe Harbor Project, arranged to participate in the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York clinics in response to the repeal of DACA, which threatens to disrupt the lives of thousands of New York immigrants and their families. Maryann Tharappel ‘11, who serves as Special Projects Director in the Immigrant & Refugee Services Division for Catholic Charities Community Services of the Archdiocese of New York, is spearheading the partnership with the Law School.

    “The changes in and elevation of federal enforcement regarding undocumented immigrants raise serious civil rights concerns, have led to an increase in the separation of families, have eroded trust in law enforcement, and have increased the numbers of immigrants facing deportation,” Tharappel said. “The need for our immigrant brothers and sisters in New York to access high quality legal services has never been greater. By marrying volunteers with experienced immigration attorneys through scalable programming, we are bridging a gap in access to justice for this vulnerable population. Brooklyn Law School’s support of Catholic Charities’ community-based legal services programs for immigrants has been bold and unwavering. The effort on the part of the faculty and students makes a significant difference in the lives of all the people we serve.”

    “Given our traditions and our commitment to diversity, equality and service, we are proud to support and be part of the very important work Catholic Charities is doing to assist immigrants with their legal needs,” said Dean Nick Allard. “Our participation is in keeping with our law school’s mission to use the power of the law to make a positive difference. From our earliest days, the doors of this law school have been open to all—including immigrants and the children of immigrants, who have made lasting contributions to the law, their communities, and to society.”

    “I am so proud of the many Brooklyn Law School alumni and students who are harnessing their knowledge and energy to help vulnerable immigrant communities.  They are keeping the Brooklyn Law School tradition alive,” said Fullerton.

    “The student, staff and faculty response to our call for volunteers is heartening and shows how much our community is eager to devote their time and skills to help immigrants navigate the treacherous waters of today’s fast-changing, life-altering immigration policies,” said Caplow.

    Volunteers from the Law School will be conducting initial screenings to assess the type of assistance or legal remedies that may be available to help the immigrants affected by the proposed changes to DACA or those seeking advice on determining their legal status in the United States.