June 12, 2023

Law Student Selected for Esteemed Immigration Law Fellowship

Law student Jessica Olave ’23 was selected as a Immigrant Justice Corps (IJC) Fellow to provide legal counsel to juveniles undergoing immigration removal proceedings.

Law student Jessica Olave ’23 has been selected for the prestigious two-year Immigrant Justice Corps (IJC) Justice Fellowship with the Vera Institute of Justice. As a Fellow, she will provide representation to immigrant children in removal proceedings, making her among the first class of legal advocates to receive this honor.

The only one of its kind, the Justice Fellowship identifies rising legal immigration advocates and matches them with organizations where they can make a difference in their field. Fellows perform an array of services, including affirmative asylum applications, removal defense, and obtaining special relief for juveniles and victims of domestic violence, crime, and human trafficking.

This year, the IJC has added two new opportunities for recent law graduates to be matched with immigration law organizations through the Acacia Center for Justice and the Vera Institute of Justice. Olave has been selected for the latter, making her among the first class to blaze the trail for this program. “I want to know immigration law inside and out so I can be the best advocate possible, and that’s what I really like about this [Fellowship]. I feel like I’ll come out of it being a really well-trained [advocate and] really get a lot out of those two years.”

Olave will work on Project Ishmael, based out of New Orleans, to provide legal representation for unaccompanied juveniles in deportation proceedings. In her role, Olave will provide counsel to and strategize avenues for defense of children who were forcibly separated from their families or who arrived at the border unaccompanied. “Immigrants that are facing deportation do not have a right to counsel because removal proceedings are considered civil. That means you could be seven years old and in front of a judge, trying to explain why you’re seeking asylum,” said Olave. “So part of the goal of this specific funding was to provide attorneys because there is such a huge need for that.”

During her time at Lewis & Clark, Olave also worked as a Student Fellow for Equal Justice Works’ Rural Summer Legal Corporation. There, she worked with Legal Aid Services of Oregon to research regulations to strengthen OSHA in Oregon’s agricultural sector and help rural agricultural workers obtain access to leave laws. She was also selected as a Lezak Social Justice Fellow in 2022, where she worked with the Public Justice Food Project to support and represent low-income workers and farmers in their fight to reform industrial animal agriculture and its harmful impacts on rural communities. Olave was also involved with the PCC Community Legal & Educational Access & Referral (CLEAR) Clinic, where she worked on immigration removal defense. Recently, Olave was able to secure a $10,000 eco-social justice grant to provide funding for six students to work on creating a framework for climate justice asylum claims at the CLEAR Clinic.

To Lewis & Clark students seeking to pursue a career in immigration justice, Olave recommends, “Talk to people all the time. Whatever you’re passionate about, bring it up constantly and you never know what opportunities will come out of that or who will remember that.” To learn more about the IJC and its fellowship offerings, please visit their website here.