Maine law students put education to work in Texas

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PORTLAND — Some University of Maine School of Law students willingly spent Christmas behind bars.

They are volunteering at a detention center operated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Laredo, Texas.

The five students, all enrolled in the school’s Refugee and Human Rights Clinic, are part of a group of 10 volunteers helping attorneys and staff with the Laredo Project, a collaboration between the law firm Jones Day and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid.

“Our students are able to take the skills they’ve learned in the classroom and through their cases here in Maine, and put them to good use for the women who are being detained in Texas,” Professor Anna Welch said in a Dec. 20 press release. “The effort reflects the clinic’s dual mission of training future lawyers while engaging in public service.”

Laredo sits on the border with Mexico, and many detainees are women who have fled Latin American countries, Welch said. Increasingly, there are also women who have been in America for years or decades who are facing deportation.

As volunteers, the students help with intake interviews, case reviews and writing motions seeking emergency stays of deportation orders.

“These are people who have been working, paying taxes, and raising children who are U.S. citizens. They were not a priority under the Bush or Obama administrations. But that has changed under President Trump,” Welch said. “Now they are being detained after traffic stops or other routine contact with law enforcement, and they face the very real threat of deportation and separation from their families.”

Next month, Nora Bosworth will make her second trip to Laredo to volunteer. Her first week of service came in July.

Bosworth and student Greta Lozada blogged about their trips last summer, saying even meeting with clients can be challenging because of the layout and conditions at the detention center.

“The women we interviewed seemed particularly shocked to be inside a place that for all intents and purposes resembled a jail,” the women wrote.

Restrictions limited access to the two meeting rooms, so much so  that Bosworth and Lozada reported waiting six hours to interview anyone during a day at the detention center.

Both women are fluent in Spanish, and assisted in intake requests for asylum and bond to allow women to rejoin their families. They also sought cancellation of removal orders and wrote assessments on whether clients had grounds to contest deportations.

“The women’s stories varied widely, from harrowing stories of trauma and persecution, to more routine accounts of mothers who had been living and working in the U.S. for years and were apprehended by ICE,” Bosworth said in the press release.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

University of Maine law student Nora Bosworth next month will make her second trip to volunteer at a U.S. ICE detention center in Laredo, Texas.

UMaine School of Law Professor Anna Welch: “Our students are able to take the skills they’ve learned in the classroom and through their cases here in Maine, and put them to good use for the women who are being detained in Texas.”

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.
  • Lucy Ball

    Imagine that, law students (and professor) that apparently do not know the difference between legal and illegal. To ice the cake they have no idea of our immigration laws. NOT all by a long shot work and pay taxes. Take a course in the cost to taxpayers for medical, welfare and education of illegals.

    • EdBeem

      And then calculate how much the US economy would lose without immigrant labor.

      • fed up tax payer

        Why it’s your hero Obungler and the rest of the phony Democrats that want the illegals. Along with these phony Democrats judges. To lazy to mow yards and clean their on houses

        • EdBeem

          You mean “too lazy…”? Immigrants who risk everything to get to America are far more American than the fat, dumb and happy racist slobs who support our fat, dumb and happy racist slob of a president.

          • fed up tax payer

            Lazy is correct Judges to lazy to mow their yards and lazy to clean own home. Obama bows down kisses butt to please his Muslim cronies.

          • Nimrod

            Duhaha….who been supporting Saudi Arabia since 1950s and upped the their terrorist oil revenues even more in 1970s even up to now??? U.S.A….19 of 911 hijackers are them. Osama was onee of them. You need money to carry out terrorist acts. Trump signed a record deal with them to buy jets n modern weapons that will be used by terrorists against Americans n her interests. Most folks so blind that they blindly supporting terrorism by calling ” Saudis” friends. Its like Americans idolizing Mexicans because of all the drugs the cartel beem supplying since the beginning. Most americans refers to oboma as a muslim but not treating him a spoiled brat that the tereorists are…7 wives, infinite oil dollars and usa support for their ” advancement of sharia laws”… As long we calling our enemies friends don’t be surprised when some family royal members financed those rook down world trase center.

          • Lucy Ball

            I seem to recall Obama telling….I think it was Barbara Walters that his worst fault was that he was lazy.

      • fed up tax payer

        Well let’s see calculate how much money it is costing people to keep Illegals. So let’s see do they pay for education? Do they pay for emergency visits to hospital? Low wages are paid to them so Ed let’s see what resources they use to take advantage of that were meant for the homeless the needy. Or the elderly .So you can take your liberal view and put it where the sun don’t shine. It is not up to American taxpayers to support their illegal kids or anchor babies.

      • Lucy Ball

        The year 2016 the US economy lost $26 B that was not spent by the hard working illegals in this country but sent to Mexico. Don’t bother to argue that all of that money was from an after paying taxes paycheck. That surpassed the Mexican oil product. Education, medical, anchor baby welfare are in the billions. You do not look for info past CNN or PBS???????

  • fed up tax payer

    Just goes to show a mind is a terrible thing to waist.Why dont they go out with border patrol agents and see what really goes on with these parasites

    • EdBeem

      You should be fed up with tax money wasted (not waisted) on bogus Trump tricks like a border wall.

  • Chew H Bird

    “Our students are able to take the skills they’ve learned in the classroom and through their cases here in Maine, and put them to good use for the women who are being detained in Texas,” Professor Anna Welch said in a Dec. 20 press release. “The effort reflects the clinic’s dual mission of training future lawyers while engaging in public service.”

    Does this mean that we are sending law students to visit people who are criminally charged with being in our country illegally? If so, do other people charged with illicit acts get the same treatment? I am sure there are plenty of people in Maine who are charged with criminal acts that would like a visit from law students…