RIS Legal Interns Reflect on Their Internship Experience at CLINIC

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Joseph (Joe) Strzempko, George Washington University School of Law

Working for the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) has been a unique and gratifying experience. I just finished my 1L year at George Washington Law School and I was excited to work at CLINIC this summer because I wanted the chance to do meaningful work in a cause that I care about. Working in CLINIC’s Religious Immigration Services has provided me with the opportunity to engage in direct client service in a way that profoundly benefits the lives of real people. I myself am an adherent to the Roman Catholic faith so it is good to know that my work will allow Roman Catholic religious workers to practice their faith and spread their wisdom in the United States. In addition, I have the chance to develop my legal skills and build valuable experience that will help me along in my career as an attorney.

Furthermore, CLINIC has provided me with the opportunity to learn a great deal about immigration law at the policy level. During my time at CLINIC I was able to attend a spirited Congressional committee hearing on immigration policy (complete with raucous protesters), a moving naturalization ceremony for immigrants wishing to become US citizens, and a panel discussion on immigration policy held by the Jesuit Refugee Service at Georgetown Law School.

Some of the things that I saw and heard, such as stories of children as young as three or four being forced to represent themselves in immigration court left me quite dispirited. But I found more things to be inspired about. Things such as the sight of newly naturalized US citizens bursting with pride and love for their new country, the compassion and faithfulness of the religious workers CLINIC serves, and the dedication, dynamism, and passion of the attorneys at CLINIC that I have had the privilege to work with have all left me heartened. Indeed, it has been a pleasure to work at CLINIC this summer and I believe that I have grown as a lawyer, as a citizen, and as a person.

Emily Wajert, George Washington University School of Law

As the summer comes to a close, I was asked to write a reflection on my experiences here at CLINIC. I pondered about how I could express how wonderful of an internship this has been, while simultaneously explaining why it has been so meaningful to me. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” I can honestly say that I have learned so much at CLINIC because I have been embraced and included as part of the “team” since my first day here this summer. When I interviewed with RIS Attorney Kate for this position earlier this year, I confessed I did not know much about immigration law, but that I was eager to learn. Once here, all of the attorneys and staff helped turn that excitement and desire to learn into actual knowledge about all aspects of immigration law and reform. In my short time here, I was able to work on various cases including I-360s, I-129s, and even naturalization applications, having direct contact with petitioners and beneficiaries; I attended a Committee Hearing on Immigration Reform; I had the opportunity to listen to our Executive Director, Jeanne Atkinson, and other experts speak about unaccompanied minors and asylum seekers; and I was able to attend a Naturalization Ceremony at USCIS. From these experiences, I was able to see what a career in immigration law truly entails. I am so grateful to the CLINIC staff for affording me the opportunity to learn and grow this summer as an aspiring attorney and for including me from the very beginning in the fantastic work you do here!

Source: Catholic Charities