New Law Clinic to Assist Immigrants, Refugees

New Law Clinic to Assist Immigrants, Refugees

“There’s a crisis of migration right now,” says David Weber, professor of law. “There are tens of millions of displaced persons who need to leave a difficult life. If we can do a little to help that, we want to do it.”

The Creighton Immigrant and Refugee Clinic, which opened this fall in the School of Law, works to address this crisis — not only by directly aiding immigrants and refugees in open cases in immigration courts, but by training the next generation of lawyers to dedicate themselves to one of the most pressing social justice issues in the country today.

“We see the clinic as an extension of Creighton’s Jesuit values to be men and women for and with others, reaching out to the most vulnerable among us,” Weber says. “But it’s also an opportunity for students to exercise the technical skills they’ve acquired and be touched by the life experiences of the individuals they’re helping.”

The clinic follows the long-standing tradition of Creighton’s civil clinic, the Milton R. Abrahams Legal Clinic, in providing representation to the under­served, and where faculty, lawyers and students, recognizing the marginality of immigrants in the legal system, have engaged in legal work on behalf of these new arrivals.

The clinic is partnering with Justice For Our Neighbors Nebraska, an Omaha-based chapter of a national nonprofit organization specializing in legal services for immigrants and refugees. Charles “Shane” Ellison, legal director for the organization, who also teaches at the law school, will oversee the clinic. Second- and third-year law students working in the clinic will be required to complete a one-hour per-week course on immigration and refugee law.

Weber says the clinic will primarily focus on three types of clients: those seeking asylum, unaccompanied minors, and victims of human traffick­ing or abuse. But there are other cases in which the clinic could play a role.

“There’s a great alignment with our mission and Justice For Our Neighbors, and the exposure to different people facing difficult legal problems is a huge benefit [for our students], too,” says Catherine Mahern, the Connie Kearney Chair in Clinical Legal Education and director of the Abrahams Legal Clinic. “I think this will open a lot minds and a lot of hearts.”


Editor's Note: Justice For Our Neighbors is now known as Immigrant Legal Center