The Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic at Elon Law hosted its second annual Immigration Law Seminar on May 22, featuring presentations by representatives of the Guilford County Public Defender's Office, Human Rights First, the Immigration Center for Women and Children and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Heather Scavone, Clinical Practitioner in Residence for Elon Law’s Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic, said the clinic’s position as the largest refugee and asylum-based legal clinic in North Carolina positioned it to offer valuable training opportunities through annual Continuing Legal Education (CLE) seminars for members of the legal profession.
“Immigration law practitioners must fulfill annual continuing legal education requirements to maintain state licensure, however it is rare that practice-specific legal training opportunities arise in North Carolina,” Scavone said.
This year, the following four speakers presented at the seminar, covered four different areas of immigration law:
- Jessica Farb, staff attorney at the Immigration Center for Women and Children in San Fransico, spoke about advanced U-visa practice issues;
- Edly Vliet, community relations officer for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services District 8 in Atlanta, spoke about the unique immigration options for Cuban nationals;
- Vanessa Allyn, staff attorney at Human Rights First in Washington D.C., spoke about advanced asylum practice issues; and
- Gregory Pleasants, a public defender in Guilford County, spoke about defense attorneys’ duty to noncitizen defendants.
Pleasants, whose presentation roused some heated questions from seminar participants, discussed the 2010 Supreme Court case, Padilla v. Kentucky. This case held that criminal defense attorneys have a constitutional obligation to inform noncitizen clients about the immigration consequences of criminal dispositions, including the possibility of deportation.
Josh Singarayar, a member of the Class of 2013 at Elon Law who attended the seminar, said he gained valuable practical knowledge and was especially interested in Farb’s presentation on U-Visas.
“I am interested in working with clients who are seeking to obtain status or a visa through that designation, so it helped to hear a step by step rundown of how it works logistically,” said Singarayar, who was encouraged to attend the seminar by co-workers at his summer internship with Church World Service where he works with an immigration attorney. He said that Elon Law hosting such a conference is highly beneficial on a personal and professional level.
“I can point out that my school is active within the community in both assisting clients through the clinic and educating others about how the law is changing,” Singarayar said. “I didn’t have to travel far to hear expert speakers discuss topics relevant to my career, and I know that if I need further guidance that there are lawyers in the area I can look to for it.”
By Courtney Roller L’13