UA law clinic to take on new cases

Hir­ing comes at time of in­creased de­mand for im­mi­gra­tion le­gal ser­vices

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - JAIME ADAME

FAYETTEVILLE — The Univer­sity of Arkansas School of Law’s im­mi­gra­tion clinic will once again en­roll new stu­dents and take on new cases af­ter the hire of a vis­it­ing pro­fes­sor, said An­nie Smith, direc­tor of the law school’s Civil Lit­i­ga­tion and Ad­vo­cacy Clinic.

Christina Pol­lard starts teach­ing Aug. 14, UA spokesman Steve Voorhies said.

Her ar­rival comes at a time of in­creased de­mand for im­mi­gra­tion le­gal ser­vices in North­west Arkansas, said Drew Deven­port, an im­mi­gra­tion at­tor­ney based in Spring­dale, who stepped in at the law school af­ter the de­par­ture of the im­mi­gra­tion clinic’s first direc­tor, El­iz­a­beth Young.

UA es­tab­lished its im­mi­gra­tion clinic in 2008. Stu­dents work un­der the over­sight of a pro­fes­sor to of­fer clients free le­gal help.

Young left in fall 2016 to be­come an im­mi­gra­tion judge in Cal­i­for­nia. Deven­port said no new stu­dents or new cases were taken up dur­ing the spring se­mes­ter, when he taught an im­mi­gra­tion course at the law school and also over­saw case­work be­gun ear­lier in the clinic.

Typ­i­cally, four to eight stu­dents might en­roll each se­mes­ter in the im­mi­gra­tion clinic, he said.

“It pro­vides a vi­tal func­tion for the com­mu­nity,” said Deven­port. As stu­dents ro­tate through the clinic, they are some­what lim­ited in the help they can pro­vide, Deven­port said. But the free le­gal help is “for a sec­tion of the com­mu­nity that of­ten­times doesn’t have a lot of op­tions or a lot of funds,” he added.

Within a week of tak­ing of­fice in Jan­uary, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump signed an ex­ec­u­tive or­der stat­ing his pol­icy to use “all avail­able sys­tems and re­sources” in car­ry­ing out im­mi­gra­tion laws.

In North­west Arkansas, “we’re see­ing a lot of peo­ple go into ICE cus­tody” af­ter be­ing stopped for “rel­a­tively mi­nor” traf­fic vi­o­la­tions, Deven­port said, re­fer­ring to U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment.

The Pew Re­search Cen­ter in Fe­bru­ary an­a­lyzed il­le­gal alien pop­u­la­tions in metro ar­eas, es­ti­mat­ing the metro area that in­cludes Fayetteville, Spring­dale and Rogers as hav­ing a pop­u­la­tion of 30,000 il­le­gal aliens, plus or mi­nus 5,000, in 2014.

Var­i­ous as­pects of im­mi­gra­tion law and pol­icy may be chang­ing un­der Trump. On Wed­nes­day, he voiced sup­port for a plan to limit le­gal im­mi­gra­tion and re­duce an em­pha­sis on fam­ily ties when de­cid­ing on ap­pli­ca­tions.

Deven­port, an at­tor­ney with the Davis Law Firm, said, “we’re cer­tainly see­ing more clients.”

In Jan­uary, Frank Head, direc­tor of Spring­dale-based Catholic Char­i­ties Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vices, said the or­ga­ni­za­tion has typ­i­cally re­ferred sev­eral hun­dred clients a year to UA for help.

Stu­dents have pre­vi­ously as­sisted with an ed­u­ca­tional cit­i­zen­ship event for area res­i­dents, Mar­garita Solorzano,

ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the His­panic Women’s Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Arkansas, has said.

Pol­lard said she and Solorzano are plan­ning a stu­dent-led event for Oc­to­ber, and she said she has met with Head and in­vites the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s re­fer­rals to the clinic.

“I am very ex­cited to serve the im­mi­grant com­mu­nity,” said Pol­lard, whose ex­pe­ri­ence in­cludes di­rect­ing an im­mi­gra­tion law clinic at Ok­la­homa City Univer­sity School of Law and teach­ing at Seat­tle Univer­sity. Stacy Leeds, the law school’s dean, in an email said a na­tional search will re­sume to find a per­ma­nent fac­ulty re­place­ment for Young.

Pol­lard earns a salary of $105,000, Voorhies said. Young’s salary was $151,852 when she left UA.

Smith said in an email that clinic stu­dents learn skills such as in­ter­view­ing that help them re­gard­less of their fu­ture le­gal spe­cialty. The UA law school’s web­site lists seven clin­ics on var­i­ous top­ics.

Deven­port, a 2012 UA law school grad­u­ate, took part in the im­mi­gra­tion clinic as a stu­dent.

“Be­fore the clinic, I hon­estly had no in­cli­na­tion or any idea that I would end up prac­tic­ing im­mi­gra­tion law,” Deven­port said. The ex­pe­ri­ence “brought out the pas­sion and drive,” he said.

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