Students, Faculty, Volunteer Attorneys put on DACA Renewal Clinic

Pile of DACA clinic training manuals. On Sept. 5, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an Obama-era program that protected more than 800,000 immigrants from deportation at the national level, would be rescinded. Immigration law professionals knew they had only a month-long window to give renewal assistance to immigrants who qualified for two additional years of protections.

Enter a team of quick-thinkers at Washburn Law led by Associate Professor Gillian Chadwick, Law Clinic Director Debi Schrock, and a team of student interns.

“We had a few days’ notice,” Chadwick said. “I thought about what the need would be in the community, what would benefit students at the clinic in terms of learning experience, and what would complement the overall goals of clinic.”

She and her students quickly formed a plan to hold four open-door clinics to assist with completing renewals in September.

Chadwick guided students through the planning stages by detailing the anticipated needs of assistance seekers and setting the research course. Students then drafted questionnaires while Chadwick and Schrock created a procedural flow chart to process the individuals who would attend.

While the Clinic always strives for the highest quality work, Chadwick said she understood that stakes were high in this particular situation and it would require the help of additional attorneys.

Volunteer attorneys Lynette Petty, '87 (professor emeritus), Adeel Syed, '15 (Kansas Bankers Association), and Anne Harrison (Foulston Siefkin, Wichita) each assisted at the clinics.

In addition to renewal paperwork, the clinic team conducted screenings aimed at connecting individuals to more resources.

“A lot of people aren’t aware they qualify for legal assistance that, in some cases, might be an improvement over what DACA offered,” Chadwick said.

The quickly orchestrated DACA clinics helped 13 individuals with their immigration law concerns. The Immigration Clinic will continue to offer practical experience to student interns representing clients in immigration matters, and its focus will remain on alleviating the needs of non-citizen victims of crime and abuse under federal administrative law.

“Topeka has a huge need for immigration lawyers and services, and that continues to be a challenge with all the changes being implemented at the federal level,” Chadwick said.