A Professor Sends Out a Call
Professor of Law and Director of the Immigration Law Certificate Program Dina Haynes was working with a group of attorneys on legal strategies to assist Venezuelan migrants who had been transported from Texas through Florida to Martha’s Vineyard. She decided to put out a call for help to New England Law students participating in the Immigration Law Certificate Program. Professor Haynes says her goal is always “to assess the situation through the lens of is this a teachable moment?—is this a project where they can learn something?” For this hands-on opportunity organized and funded through the Human Rights and Immigration Law Project, she sought fluent Spanish speakers who were willing to volunteer pro bono hours over an upcoming weekend. Thirty-two students responded within ten minutes.
Days later, Professor Haynes and a group of students arrived at Joint Base Cape Cod where the migrants were being housed. The students’ objective was to assist with intake and serve as interpreters. As she introduced herself to a group of 15 additional attorneys also there to lend assistance, “immediately, three immigration attorneys in the group said to me ‘I’ve had your students working for me. They’re so great and ready to hit the ground running!’ I hear that a lot.”
Hands-On Learning for Students
Student Jeannette Huezo-Rosales was part of the group at Joint Base Cape Cod. She shares, “I feel a strong passion for immigration law, and that’s mainly why I wanted to come to New England Law. I’ve always thought, you do what you can to help out when you can.” So, when Professor Haynes reached out for volunteers to assist the Venezuelans, “as a first-generation student fluent in Spanish, I didn’t hesitate to volunteer. I hope, by being able to speak to the Venezuelans, they had the sense that ‘I’m not alone. There are people here to help me.’”
Student Geordano Liriano also accompanied Professor Haynes’ group to Joint Base Cape Cod to assist the Venezuelans housed there. He pitched in with administrative tasks, note taking, and interpreting. Geordano says his experience as a first-generation American has always made him question “How can I learn more, do more, and be more present for the immigrant community?” At Joint Base Cape Cod “we were able to engage the people there and lend a helping hand where they needed it—whether administrative or translation.”
Geordano adds, “I hope to practice some form of litigation, and this opportunity will help me navigate tumultuous moments that affect my clients. I am glad I have new insight for those moments.” When asked where he sees his future as an attorney after he graduates from New England Law, he responded, “I know I’ll always have a connection to the immigrant community. I don’t know where I’ll ultimately end up, but I’ll always have an eye toward helping others.”
Well Positioned in the Immigration Law Community
Professor Haynes says of New England Law grads, “We’re known in the immigration community; people look for our students.” She adds, “There is something about the way we set up our programs at New England Law that creates this really nice networking loop. I have taught so many people who have gone into practice in immigration law.”
In addition to teaching and leading the Immigration Certificate Program and Human Rights and Immigration Law Project, Professor Haynes says, “I continue to practice law because I enjoy it. And that comes through to my students. Students who study with me very often become colleagues. It happens all the time.”
Does this sound like the kind of work you’d like to do in law school? You can learn more about our certificate programs here.