Editorial: UConn Law's immigration clinic deserves praise

UConn Law is offering free legal consultation services to help DACA recipients and immigrants who have been detained or are seeking asylum. (File Photo/The Daily Campus)

University of Connecticut law students are currently getting real world experience in the field of immigration law and this practice could help save lives. According an article in UConn Today, the UConn law school is currently offering legal consultation to DACA members through a course that creates the Immigration and Detention and DACA Clinic at UConn Law.

DACA, which stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was a program created by President Obama to allow individuals that came to this country as undocumented minors the chance to get a work permit and move towards full immigration status. The program was heavily targeted by Republicans during and prior to the 2016 election. President Trump ended the program in October and said Congress had till March to create a plan to replace it. As of right now there is no replacement plan for DACA, putting hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants at risk and leaving them uncertain about their future.

Through this new program, UConn Law is hoping to reduce some of that uncertainty. The students enrolled in the class get a crash-course in real-life immigration law scenarios and work on real cases. Cases can range from informing a DACA recipient about their rights under the law if they lose their status to helping immigrants in detention centers file litigations towards their relief. Students say they find this work especially helpful even if they don’t plan on going into immigration law. The program was created as a part of the UConn Law School Legal Clinic which was formed in 2002.

This program is a win for the university, immigration rights activists and the state of Connecticut as a whole. It is always important to remember that UConn is, at its core, an educational institute. UConn has a duty to teach its students as much as possible. Real world programs that offer hands-on training are some of the best kinds of teachers. You can learn as much as you want in the classroom, but all of that is useless if it cannot be applied to something. The Immigration and Detention and DACA Clinic at UConn Law gives an outlet to that classroom learning.

And as much as this program is a win because it helps UConn, it’s a win because it helps out people in need. In order to get DACA, an individual must meet a variety of conditions including having a clean criminal record. The only crime that these immigrants have committed is being brought to a new country whose laws they never understood. They should not be punished for crimes they were not responsible for committing.

Last year, both UConn and the town of Mansfield, committed to stand with immigrants and outlined policies that would support that commitment. This new clinic offered by UConn Law continues to push that message and should be heavily supported by student and community member alike.