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Public Interest Law Project

Erin McKee

October 10, 2011

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Sponsors Organized to Assist Refugees

Sponsors Organized to Assist Refugees, Portland, OR

This summer I worked as the legal intern for Sponsors Organized to Assist Refugees, or SOAR Legal.  SOAR Legal provides low-cost immigration services to refugees, asylees, and low-income immigrants who may not otherwise have access to legal services.  Among its many services, it assists with family-based petitions, green card applications, naturalization applications, humanitarian parole, and employment authorization.

My work at SOAR Legal was a balance between legal research and writing and direct client contact.  I researched a wide-range of issues, from public interest parole for religious minorities from the Former Soviet Union and Iran to the immigration consequences of certain crimes.  I also wrote several memoranda and client letters, and I regularly corresponded with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and embassies throughout the world.  Every day presented a new issue to explore, a new problem to solve, and often a new twist in the law itself.

In addition, I conducted initial consultations for walk-in clients; assisted with asylum screenings; took affidavits; and prepared applications for a variety of immigration benefits.  Having so much direct client contact crystallized the tremendous impact and import of an immigration lawyer’s work.  To provide such necessary services to people who are often unfamiliar with the U.S. legal system was both humbling and rewarding.

I have long been passionate about the human and civil rights of noncitizens, and my experience at SOAR Legal has solidified my resolve to pursue a career in immigration law.  Without the PILP stipend, I would not have been able to take this amazing position.

 

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