Elon University School of Law has launched the Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic, which will allow students to provide free legal services to low-income refugees and asylum seekers in North Carolina, under the supervision of law faculty.
The clinic, which began in January 2011, will handle approximately 500 to 600 refugee and asylum cases in its first few years. The need for such a clinic is great in North Carolina, where nearly 2,000 refugees resettle annually through the Federal office of Refugee Resettlement.
“The need for this clinic cannot be overstated,” said Gerard Chapman, a Board Certified Immigration Specialist in Greensboro. “It will provide both a much needed service, and … excellent real life, and very challenging experience for the students who participate.”
The program has been endorsed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and has been named an official program provider to refugees in the state for elderly citizenship and naturalization services.
Students who participate in the program will complete 107 hours of clinical work, as well as 13 hours of classes. Students will aid clients in applying for asylum, permanent residency, citizenship and employment authorization. They will conduct interviews, meet with clients, gather evidence and attend hearings.
“The clinic can provide valuable learning opportunities for our law students, meet an important need in our region, and serve hundreds of people who face incredibly challenging legal issues and life circumstances,” said Dean George Johnson.
Legal services for refugees were previously provided by Lutheran Family Services for over 20 years, until they closed in September 2010.