Three immigration attorneys visited Notre Dame Law School recently for a panel discussion on various immigration issues and challenges. The panel included Aimee Heitz, Directing Attorney at Indiana Legal Services, Inc., Immigrants’ and Language Rights Center, Michael Durham, ’01 J.D., solo practitioner at Durham Immigration Law, and Rudy Monterrosa, ’01 J.D., solo practitioner at Monterrosa Law Group and adjunct professor of immigration law at NDLS. They discussed a wide range of topics including how and why they pursued immigration law, the challenges they face as immigration attorneys, immigration reform, and background on the judicial review process of immigration decisions.
They also spoke about the career opportunities for students interesting in pursuing immigration law. Some options include working in private practice representing clients with their individual immigration or deportation cases; working with refugees or those seeking asylum in the United States; public interest work representing low-income immigration clients that have particular difficulties accessing legal services because of their language and cultural barriers; and working for the Immigration Court System through the U.S. Department of Justice.
“Non-profit outreach can be challenging. There is relief available, but people are not aware of it because they are afraid to come forward,” Heitz said. She also said that by becoming a part of the community it helps to break down the walls and allows her to become a better advocate. For example, part of the Immigrants’ and Language Rights Center is the Migrant Farmworker Law Center which offers paid internships to law students. Students visit migrant camps across Indiana to pass out informational literature on workers’ legal rights, discuss farmworker rights, and do outreach activities.
Monterrosa said that immigration work is fulfilling because you are “a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves.”
The event was sponsored by the Hispanic Law Students Association, the American Constitutional Society, and the American Civil Liberties Union.