College of Law > Academics > Experiential Learning > Legal Clinics > Asylum & Refugee
Since 1996, the Asylum & Immigration Law Clinic (AILC) has continually expanded to better serve the needs of students and the community. Today, AILC offers two clinical courses focused on asylum and immigration law training and representation and through its Legal Resources Project collaborates with 30 community-based organizations in Illinois to increase access to reliable legal information and services for low-income immigrants and refugees.*
Students in the Clinic have successfully represented asylum-seekers from dozens of countries, reunited families, secured lawful status for survivors of domestic violence, trafficking and other crimes and assisted in applications for citizenship.
Additionally, AILC collaborates with and receives support and assistance from immigration practitioners, many of whom are AILC alumni, leaders in the field and who contribute to advancement of refugee and immigrant issues across the country.
Students assist AILC clients in presenting their asylum claims before the Asylum Office and the Immigration Court and other immigration matters. In the spring semester students will research, prepare materials and present on a substantive immigration law topic to staff of immigrant serving community-based organizations. Students also are provided with the opportunity to observe Immigration Court hearings.
This past year, students in AILC had the opportunity to represent clients in Immigration Court (at status hearings) and before the Asylum Office (at an asylum hearing). Students regularly met with, interviewed and counseled clients. Students prepared and filed asylum applications, drafted affidavits, secured corroborating evidence, drafted trial memoranda, and consulted with experts. Further students engaged in trial preparation with clients and witnesses.
Some students assisted former AILC clients in pursuing benefits after the asylum grant, including filing petitions for family members, and filing for lawful permanent resident status. Additionally, students conducted in-depth research regarding immigration consequences of criminal convictions.
“Clinic in law school is like the residency of medical school – it’s where you get the opportunity to practice the skills and laws professors lecture about in class every day. Taking a clinic, especially the Immigration and Asylum Legal Clinic, is one of, if not the smartest decisions a law student can take in law school. Every day you learn something new and by the end of the semester when you look back on all you’ve learned you’ll be amazed by how much you thoroughly learned. When I first started the clinic, I couldn’t tell you 2 things about asylum law but now I feel confident to take on a case from start to finish. You also learn people skills, interviewing skills, analytical skills, administrative skills, etc. I feel what I’ve learned in clinic has definitely put me ahead of other classmates that intend on pursuing immigration. I wish someone had told me about clinics earlier in law school rather than me coming across it in an email among many emails. If you know what you want to practice post law school and DePaul offers a clinic in that matter, you’d be silly to not take the clinic. I only have good things to say about clinics offered at DePaul.”
-Alum of the Asylum & Refugee Law Clinic
“Unlike in the traditional classroom, the Clinic provides students the opportunity to work directly with clients to build their asylum cases. You conduct interviews with the client to hear about his/her experiences in the home country. You write an affidavit illustrating those experiences and fears. You conduct research on what is happening in his/her home country. You collect documents to support the client’s story. You speak with experts to gain more insight on the conditions of the home country. In the end, not only do you create a product illustrating the client’s story, but you also form an invaluable relationship with the client. You are the person who listened to the client speak about his/her experiences and did something to convey that story.”-Alum of the Asylum & Refugee Law Clinic
AILCs work in building capacity for immigration legal services in collaboration with community-based organizations is supported by The Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois, The Polk Bros. Foundation, the Illinois Funders Collaborative, The Julian Grace Foundation and the Chicago Bar Foundation. AILC also acknowledges Walking with the Poor which provides support for AILCs direct representation work.