CUNY Law students assist asylum-seekers detained at the border

CUNY Law students visited Dilley, Texas. Photos courtesy of CUNY Law.

CUNY Law students visited Dilley, Texas. Photos courtesy of CUNY Law.

By Rachel Vick 

Classes haven’t started yet, but CUNY School of Law students are already working to serve communities near and far. 

A group of students and faculty took a trip to Dilley, Texas in order to support the efforts of asylum-seeking immigrant families detained at the South Texas Family Residential Center, one of the largest immigrant detention centers in the country. 

Final year student Rich Velasquez said he took the opportunity to participate in the program because he believes it will provide greatly needed legal services to people stuck at the border. He said the program would also help him develop a “client-centered and trauma-informed approach” in his practice.

Students in the program spend their time providing pro-bono advice on immigration-related issues, including coaching asylum-seekers through the application process. 

The students will also help prepare immigrants prepare for “Credible Fear” interviews, which establish whether or not an applicant is in danger if they return to their home country. If successful, the law protects asylum seekers from deportation until their application has been processed.

New students began their CUNY Law career with a day of service learning on Aug. 16. They visited various organizations, including the Fair Housing Justice Center, the Nuestros Niños Day Care Center and Hour Children, which provides services for the families of incarcerated or formerly incarcerated women.

The Day of Service is intended to set the tone for careers in public service law, a field that CUNY Law specializes in, through the introduction of real-world situations.