Event: HLS Students Discuss Spring Break Trip to Alabama

We hope you’ll join us on Tue, Apr 3 from 12-1pm in WCC 3012 for lunch with the HLS students who traveled to Alabama during spring break. (Read the blog post and watch the video to get an introduction to their work.) The students will discuss what they learned about the state’s new anti-immigration law HB 56, the impact of the law on Alabamans, and the growing movement in the state to seek repeal. Lunch provided.

HLS students studied Alabama's immigration law HB 56 over spring break (image courtesy of Paige Austin)

The Alabama River (image courtesy of David Baake)

Alabama Appleseed, one of the organizations that HLS students worked with on their trip (image courtesy of David Baake)

Know your rights materials from HICA!, another partner on the trip (image courtesy of David Baake)

HLS students met with Alabama State Senator Hank Sanders (image courtesy of David Baake)

The statehouse in Montgomery, Alabama (image courtesy of David Baake)

Student Voices: Collaboration and Community in Alabama

HLS students met with founders and members of Somos Tuskaloosa in Alabama (image courtesy of David Baake)

This dispatch comes from Carol Wang (JD ’13), co-director of Harvard Immigration Project‘s Bond Hearing Project:

This Spring Break, six Harvard Law students traveled to Alabama to study the state’s immigration law. (Watch the video from our trip here.) The Hammond-Beason Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act, or HB 56 for short, makes it a felony for an undocumented immigrant to enter into a “business transaction” with a state or “political subdivision of a state”; invalidates all past, current, and future contracts with undocumented immigrants; authorizes police to stop, ticket, and arrest any person they “reasonably suspect” to be an undocumented immigrant; makes it a crime to “conceal, harbor, or shield” any undocumented immigrant; and creates a civil enforcement action by private citizens to report undocumented immigrants.

It was Friday, our fifth day in Alabama. It was a downcast day with the threat of rain and the weather mirrored my mood. Over the course of the previous four days, Jacqueline Pierluisi (JD ’12), David Baake (JD ’14), and I had met with a wide range of people with expertise in HB 56, including a judge, a district attorney, community organizers, lawyers, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) official, and undocumented immigrants.

What we saw and heard was a side of America that was hostile and unfamiliar. Both undocumented and documented immigrants have been targeted by the law. Police officials stop, ticket, and detain drivers they “reasonably” suspect to be an undocumented immigrants, effectively conducting the same kind of racial profiling that is prohibited in other states.

In the weeks immediately following the passage of the act, many families were afraid to leave the house, even to go to the grocery store, because they had heard that purchasing basic food items were “business transactions” that were now crimes. One community organizer told us that 911 operators do not respond to telephone calls made in broken English, with an operator once explaining that HB 56 forbade them from providing emergency care for undocumented immigrants.

On that fifth day, we stepped into a small home in Tuscaloosa, expecting to hear similar stories. We were meeting with the founders and members of Somos Tuskaloosa, an organization formed in the aftermath of HB 56 to inform, mobilize, and serve undocumented immigrants. When we asked Somos Tuskaloosa about HB 56, at first they shared the same sentiment, the feeling of fear – fear of driving, fear they could be stopped at any time, fear of getting sick because not only would they lose their job but they would also be unable to receive medical care. These Tuscaloosa residents had extra reason to feel unsettled. A tornado last April had torn apart their city, and traces of the devastation were still evident almost a year later.

But when we asked them what they were doing about all of this, their voices were animated and their faces were bright. They told us about all the different people with whom they were working. In the tornado’s aftermath, some of them trained and served as part of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) to build shelters for all those Tuscaloosa citizens who had lost their homes. In HB 56′s wake, Somos Tuskaloosa’s founder Gwen Ferreti also described building relationships with “uncommon allies” such as police and law enforcement officials. Some officials had told them they would not enforce a law they found unjust.

Somos Tuskaloosa and Gwen’s words of collaboration and coordination reinforced what other community organizers had told us. HICA community organizer Victor Spinezzi told us that HB 56 galvanized previously disparate Hispanic interest groups to finally form the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ACIJ). Alabama Appleseed attorney Zayne Smith told us how ACIJ was working with multiple audiences to accomplish a repeal of the law: creating a media “blitz” to educate the broader public, organizing faith-based events such as vigils for those directly hurt by the law, launching know-your-rights campaigns to educate and empower community members, as well as bringing a lawsuit challenging the law as unconstitutional in the courts. And we found another powerful example of collaboration in the previous weekend’s civil rights march in Montgomery, where African American groups, worker organizations, and Latino American coalitions all joined together to condemn HB 56 “for invoking inhumanity reminiscent of Jim Crow laws“.

That day in Tuscaloosa showed us that despite HB 56′s aim to divide the residents of Alabama, meaningful collaborations were taking root. These stories helped lift the week’s grey skies and stories, reminding us that even the worst situations can bring out our country’s best qualities – working together and helping our neighbors.

One Family One Alabama (image courtesy of David Baake)

Student Voices: Anti-Immigration Law in Alabama (Video)

Six months after the harshest anti-immigrant law (HB 56) in the U.S. took effect in Alabama, six Harvard Law School students traveled there for spring break to work with two groups – Alabama Appleseed and HICA – that are advocating for its repeal. Paige Austin (JD ’13) created this video about their work:

Events and Deadlines This Week

There are a bunch of clinical events this week in anticipation of clinical registration, which runs from Wed, Mar 28-Mon, Apr 2. As always, don’t hesitate to stop by the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs with questions!

Clinical Advising Appointments
Ongoing
WCC 3085
Schedule a half-hour appointment with clinical advisors who can speak with you about the diverse array of HLS clinics and answer your specific questions. More…

Open House: Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program
Mon, Mar 26, 4-5:30pm
Austin 102
The Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program provides HLS students with practical, real-world experience in the fields of negotiation, dispute resolution and conflict management, with a focus on conflict mapping and dispute systems design. Learn more about available opportunities and chat with current clinical students. Sweets and soda provided.

Open House: International Human Rights Clinic & Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic
Mon, Mar 26, 4-6:30pm
HRP/HIRC lounge, WCC 3103 & 3139
Meet clinical instructors and enjoy refreshments while learning about International Human Rights Clinic and the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic.

Info Session: Semester in Washington Program
Wed, Mar 28, 12-1pm
Hauser 104
Are you interested in law and government, and want to gain practice experience in these areas while in law school? Students in the Semester in Washington Program spend the spring semester studying and working on policy, legislative, and regulatory matters. Join us to learn more. Lunch provided.

Clinical 101: Tips and tools for getting the most out of your clinical experience
Wed, Mar 28, 5:30-6pm
WCC 2012
Gain insight into what a clinical experience can do for you, what a clinical commitment entails, how to enroll, and what questions to ask clinics during the Clinical Fair. More…

Clinical Fair
Wed, Mar 28, 6-8pm
Milstein East BC, WCC
Speak directly with clinical students, attorneys, and faculty to learn more about the work experience, potential projects, types of client interaction, time commitment, and opportunities that are unique to each clinic. Dinner and snacks will be served. More…

And a few clinical deadlines just for fun:

Opportunity: Litman Summer Fellowship Program with Harvard Defenders
Deadline: ASAP
Details: HLS Admin Updates

Opportunity: Making Rights Real: The Ghana Project
Deadline: Fri, Mar 30
Details: HLS Admin Updates

Opportunity: SEC Boston Office Internship
Deadline: Fri, Mar 30
Details: OCP Blog

Opportunity: Year-Long Slot in Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic
Deadline: Fri, Mar 30
Details: HLS Admin Updates

Snapshot: PLAP Forages for Food Through the Decades

PLAP students have been honing the art of finding free food for decades. (Good Timez, 1984)

Today’s “Snapshot” comes from Prison Legal Assistance Project (PLAP). PLAP is a student practice organization (SPO) at Harvard Law School dedicated to providing legal services to indigent Massachusetts Prisoners. 130 students are participating in PLAP this year, and PLAP students clocked over 3700 pro bono hours during the 2010-2011 school year.

As the part-time Project Archivist for PLAP, Molly Frazier has reviewed and organized 40 years of PLAP office materials. During the process, PLAP treasures – like humorous writings, artwork, photographs, student correspondence, and other colorful snapshots of history – have seen the light of day for the first time in years. It’s clear that when PLAP students weren’t busy answering phones, preparing for cases, visiting prisons and representing prisoners, they were having a little fun as well!

A lot can change in nearly 30 years. Clothing styles. Music tastes. Tuition costs. But it’s good to know that for PLAP students, some things never change. If these excerpts from the 1984 student-produced PLAP newsletter, Good Timez, are any indication, “free food for the mooching” has long been a PLAP priority. And today’s dedicated PLAPers have carried on the tradition with pride. Much needed nourishment can always be found by trolling the hallowed halls of HLS in between classes and activities, the hunt made all the more rewarding in the new Wasserstein Caspersen Student Center. One thing does appear to have changed since 1984 – the quality of foraged food. Students these days are enjoying much more than just the pilfered donut (a recurring theme in Good Timez).

As PLAP’s Internal Relations Coordinator and HLS Free-Food Aficionado Roozbeh Alavi (JD ’13) explains, the art of finding free food is a strategic combination of planning ahead, doing the research, and being in the right place at the right time. Using the Calendar @ Law and past experiences as a guide, Roozbeh can easily determine which HLS events are likely to offer the best food, with minimal commitment. His best advice to students seeking sustenance during study breaks: “Skip the talk; get the food.” What’s not to like about a free lunch?

More musings on free food from the PLAP archives. Plus an invite to pester Daria in her new home. (Good Timez, 1984)

Roundup: Cyberlaw Clinic Victory for Freedom of Speech

The Cyberlaw Clinic at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society provides high-quality, pro-bono legal services to individuals, small start-ups, non-profit groups, and government entities regarding cutting-edge issues of the Internet, new technology, and intellectual property. They recently served as co-counsel on cases arguing for the right to stream and archive court proceedings.

“In an important victory for freedom of speech, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued a decision today in two related cases, Commonwealth v. Barnes and Commonwealth v. Diorio. The cases concerned WBUR’s OpenCourt project, and the Court’s decision follows a long line of precedent in holding that courts generally may not restrain media organizations or others that attend public court proceedings from reporting on those proceedings. The Cyberlaw Clinic had the privilege to serve as co-counsel to OpenCourt in both cases…”

Continue reading about the cases and their implications on the Cyberlaw Clinic blog.