Make the Road New York

Margot Lourdel ('18) @ New York, NY

Thanks to the Sorensen Center fellowship program, I spent the summer doing deportation defense work with Make the Road New York's (MRNY) immigration unit. MRNY builds the power of Latino and working class communities to achieve dignity and justice through organizing, policy innovation, transformative education, and survival services. Under the supervision of experienced immigration attorneys, I engaged in direct representation of clients from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, Ecuador, and Togo, who are currently in removal proceedings or ordered removed from the United States.

As a legal intern, I wrote affidavits with clients, successfully obtained a U-visa certification, redacted motions for proceedings in family court, researched and wrote asylum briefs, attended an individual hearing for an asylum application and helped prep a witness, and represented clients before the immigration court at 26 Federal Plaza in Manhattan.

Standing in immigration court was a particularly striking experience. I gradually gained confidence when arguing in court. Above all, I enjoyed meeting one-on-one with clients and working extensively with them on their cases and their affidavits. Most clients have faced incredible challenges and suffered deeply traumatizing experiences. I had the privilege to spend long hours meeting with each client and getting to know their lives and stories. I started learning how to strike a balance between being professional and empathetic, and I want to keep working towards becoming a better advocate for individuals who suffer at the hands of criminalizing and punitive immigration policies.

I couldn't be more thankful to have had the opportunity to develop my practical lawyering skills in my 1L summer and to work with such an influential organization as Make the Road New York, a community organization, which is always at the forefront of social justice fights in the city of New York. I wish to thank the Sorensen Center's board members, advisors, and donors, as well as Camille Massey, for this incredible opportunity.