Intercultural Human Rights Law Review

First Page



This article demonstrates how experiential learning in law school can prepare students for the practice of law and, if done well, instill in them a life-long commitment to social justice. I use my efforts to integrate a public service component into my immigration courses to illustrate this. Despite institutional obstacles encountered along the way, the success of this effort ultimately turned on working collaboratively with student leaders with a shared commitment to equal justice, winning the support of well-placed individuals within our administration, and ensuring that the experience for students was rewarding. Our signature achievement has been the Karnes Pro Bono Project. Teams of students, including ILs, 2Ls and 3Ls, have, on three separate occasions, worked side by side with attorneys and staff from RAICES - the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, Texas's leading immigration legal services agency, at the Karnes County family detention center, assisting Central American parents and children through the credible fear screening process and helping them qualify for asylum and release from detention. Not only have the students acquired a deeper understanding of the legal, political, and practical obstacles to asylum faced by refugees at the border. They have had the deeply moving and transformative experience of working with parents and children, hearing their stories, preparing their declarations, helping them at every stage of the credible fear screening process, and learning their fates.