HALO set off to Nashville to volunteer for Justice for Our Neighbors Tennessee (JFON). JFON works on immigration issues, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), U-Visas, and temporary protected status. The organization is currently working on expanding to take on asylum cases as well. JFON does not only work in Tennessee, it also holds workshops outside of the urban center of Nashville, as many of the less urban areas of Tennessee do not have their own immigration non-profits to assist the immigrant community. JFON does all of this work with only four staff members, and a host of pro bono lawyers and volunteers.
HALO would like to thank JFON for hosing us. It was a great week working with Alvaro, Adrienne, and Wade. We are so grateful that they decided they had the resources and work to host us for the week. The students felt this was a great experience and were grateful to be able to do work that helped JFON's clients. The experience allowed students to gain first-hand, hands on experience in an area of law that many of them did not previously have. Plus, we had fun working with JFON. The staff was welcoming and the students and staff really bonded. The events of the week included a tour of a coalition of 10 immigration non-profits, immigration training from JFON staff attorneys, doing initial intake forms and DACA applications with clients, and organizing case files for the office.
Carina Novell '19
I am so glad I was able to be part of HALO's spring break service trip to Nashville. I felt that, as a 1L, I was too busy with school work to volunteer. The HALO trip was an amazing opportunity for me to take a break from my studies to help an underserved community. The work we did in Nashville was eye opening. One of the clients I worked with was a high schooler. He had a 3.5 GPA, was captain of the soccer team, and had dreams of going to college. While I was helping him renew his DACA application, I realized that it was kids like him that America would love to have as citizens. He was, by all intents and purposes, an American. However, there was one problem: he was not born here. Rather, he was born in Mexico and then brought into the U.S. by his parents when he was three. His two younger sisters were born in the U.S. and are American citizens but he would have to wait at least twenty years to begin his application for a green card through them. So until then, he has to renew his DACA for $500 every two years. That is, if the DACA program is continued.
Clint Mitchell '19
The spring break trip to Nashville through HALO was an amazing experience. We were able to work closely with JFON, a wonderful organization that provides affordable, quality legal services to immigrants as well as public education regarding immigration issues and rights. The organization was located within "Casa Azafrán", a building/community center/event space which houses a collective of nonprofits that offer services in education, legal, health care, and the arts to immigrants, refugees, and the community as a whole. After some training we were fortunate enough to assist JFON in screening initial applicants to their services, followed by researching some possible asylum cases they were considering working on. We were able to pair off into groups to directly help DACA recipients reapply for DACA status. This work in particular was very rewarding, both internally as well as through the gratitude expressed by the clients. I would highly recommend everyone to try and join HALO in their next spring break trip. We had an array of individuals and personalities that attended this year, yet no matter what one's disposition was, it seemed everyone had a wonderful time. Whether one is more outgoing or more reserved, HALO provided an environment that allowed each individual to enjoy the trip in the way that suited them best. I certainly hope to be able to participate again next year. Thanks to all those who put so much effort and time into making it such an amazing and rewarding trip.