Our 2010 API Public Interest Grant Recipients

Jihan Kahssay, a 2L at UC Davis School of Law, worked with Legal Services of Northern California this past summer to develop and implement “a culturally sensitive legal clinic that provided advice and representation to low income survivors of domestic violence in obtaining lawful immigration status pursuant to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) or alternatively, through applications for U or T visas for victims of crimes and human trafficking, respectively.” The clinic addresses the scarcity of representation for low-income battered immigrants in the Sacramento area.

Jihan, along with her supervising attorney, spent most of the summer outlining the format of the clinic, identifying available resources such as training opportunities for attorneys, and outreaching to local communities though community service centers such as the SALAM center and My Sister’s House. They were able to hold their first clinic on Saturday July 31, 2010.  It was so successful that they had to close their RSVP list early. The clinic will continue to be held once a quarter.

Michael Wu, a 2L at UC Davis School of Law, worked as a law clerk at the Asian Law Caucus (ALC) with the Juvenile Justice and Education Project this past summer. The ALC is the nation's oldest legal and civil rights organization serving low-income Asian Pacific American communities. Michael conducted extensive research and writing pertaining to Secure Communities, also known as S-Comm. This controversial Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program involves the immediate transmission of fingerprint data to immigration agencies regardless of the seriousness of the charge or whether the individual is found to be innocent. As a result, this program has led to the deportations of tens of thousands of immigrants.

Michael reached out to community organizations and city officials in counties throughout the country who have expressed concern about S-Comm, and wrote a memo outlining the various strategies and efforts to oppose the program. Michael also wrote an extensive memo to San Francisco’s Juvenile Probation Department recommending the policy changes and training necessary to implement a new policy passed by the Board of Supervisors requiring that juveniles only be reported to ICE after having been found guilty of felony-level offenses. In addition, he developed a training curriculum that provided officers with practical tips for interacting with the youth and maintaining better relationships with the community.