A new clinic at the Maurice A. Deane School of Law will represent Long Island immigrants facing deportation and spearhead education and advocacy programs for immigrant rights, President Stuart Rabinowitz and law school interim Dean Judge A. Gail Prudenti announced today.
The first law clinic of its kind on Long Island, Hofstra’s Deportation Defense Clinic (DDC) will protect immigrants who are particularly vulnerable to the consequences of increased deportation enforcement. The clinic will concentrate on two high risk populations: immigrants with removal orders against them and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients — undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children and have spent most of their lives here.
“Our law school has long history of representing immigrants through our nationally recognized clinical programs, and this new clinic deepens our commitment to this community, as well as to the values of civic engagement, diversity and tolerance that are at the heart of Hofstra’s mission,” President Rabinowitz said.
In addition to a full range of no-cost services for individuals and families, the Deportation Defense Clinic will collaborate with existing community organizations on projects aimed at tackling systemic immigration policy reforms. Students will work on drafting policy briefs and proposed legislation, as well as community education and public awareness campaigns, including “know-your-rights” programs to prepare immigrants in the event they are subject to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) action.
Hofstra Law expects to enroll up to 20 law students each semester, working under the supervision of two clinic attorneys. The students will participate in all aspects of client representation and community advocacy. In addition, students from Hofstra University’s Center for Civic Engagement will coordinate with the DDC clinic to help with community advocacy and public outreach.
“This is an incredible opportunity for our students to gain meaningful legal experience and make a significant impact in our community,” Judge Prudenti said. “The Deportation Defense Clinic also fills a critical and immediate need on Long Island.”
An estimated 99,000 undocumented immigrants are living in Nassau and Suffolk counties, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
As one of the first law schools in the country to integrate clinical education into the traditional law school curriculum, Hofstra Law currently offers three clinics focused on immigration issues: an Asylum Clinic that represents immigrants fleeing torture or other persecution; a Youth Advocacy Clinic to assist immigrant minors suffering abuse, neglect or abandonment; and an Immigration Clinical Practicum, which works on a variety of immigration law issues, often in partnership with the Central American Refugee Center in Hempstead.
The clinic will begin accepting clients sometime this spring – as soon as it can hire a legal staff of one senior attorney and one junior attorneys.
“Since the presidential election we have experienced a significant increase in calls to represent clients on immigration-related matters,” said Professor Theo Liebmann, director of clinical programs at Hofstra Law. “We have a unique opportunity, and a moral duty, to stand by our immigrant neighbors not just with words, but with action.”