The University of Houston Law Center is spearheading efforts to help UACs beginning immediately and continuing into the next few months. Our Law Center’s clinical program, specifically the immigration and civil clinics, are engaging in a number of projects designed to address the needs of UACs who will be coming to the Houston area. First, UH law students will be conducting intakes relating to potential UAC issues under the direct supervision of the clinical professors. Civil clinic students will assist with all family law aspects of special immigrant juvenile cases. Students will participate in conducting LOPs (Legal Orientation Programs) in the local Immigration Court here in Houston to groups of UACs. These programs provide children with general information about their potential claims and the immigration court process. We are currently working with the Youth Empowerment Alliance, a University-wide student organization that helps immigrant children —doing a clothing/toy drive for items to be sent to detained UACs.
In addition, AILA has tasked Prof. Janet Beck, one of our supervising attorneys and local attorney and AILA member Raed Gonzalez with leading the AILA UAC Houston Taskforce. I am serving as the committee chair for the CLE Committee. To that end, we are currently planning a number of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) programs on UAC issues in conjunction with AILA, the Houston Bar Association, pro bono organizations, members of the private bar and the two other law schools in Houston, South Texas College of Law and Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law. The first of these CLE programs, co-sponsored by the Harris County Attorney’s Office and the three local law schools, will be held Thursday, July 31st at the Houston Community College campus. I will speak on asylum claims for UACs and Prof. Beck will speak about the AILA UAC Houston Taskforce.
In addition to the July 31 CLE, there are further CLE’s planned, about one per month in the coming months. The CLE committee has announced the following further events: August 27, Aimee Maldonado will speak at Central Market-Houston; August 29, South Texas College of Law will host a CLE on all aspects of relief for UACs, including panels on Asylum, U’s, T’s, and SIJ cases; on October 3, UH Law Center will be hosting the annual Joseph A. Vail Asylum workshop (this year we will focus on UAC asylum in the morning and general asylum issues during afternoon sessions); on November 3, Catholic Charities-Cabrini Center will be hosting a half day CLE covering topics relating to UACs.
We are honored to be a part of these efforts at the University of Houston Law Center. Due to the enormity of this humanitarian crisis, we have to all work together to help these kids in the coming months.
Written by Geoffrey A. Hoffman, 2014 Elmer Fried Excellence in Teaching Award Winner