MIRC Exit Memo
I think the thing I enjoyed most about my summer working at the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center in Ann Arbor was the variety of tasks I got to tackle. I was the only MIRC intern at the Ann Arbor office and so I got to do a little bit of everything. I helped my supervising attorney (Carolyn Krieger) with every aspect of the U-Visa process: from interviewing clients at intake interviews in Grand Rapids to communicating with law enforcement about certifications to filling out applications with clients. I also got to work on VAWA applications and even a T-Visa case. Beyond immigration applications, I did projects on legislation and research to answer questions that MIRC’s pro-bono attorneys were encountering in their cases. I got to go to USCIS and sit in on a green card interview and went to detention hearings with clients at ICE’s Detroit office. I also sat in on trainings that dealt with domestic violence and immigration issues specific to the LGBT community. I even attended the Farm worker Legal Service’s intern training and got a taste of what those students were working on over the summer. I was never bored; every one of my ten weeks at MIRC taught me something new.
The experience I got in immigration and human rights work was also very practical. Now I know how to file a motion with the court, what kind of evidence needs to be gathered for a U-visa, and where to start researching when I encounter a complicated immigration problem. All of these are skills I know I will put to good use in practice. Carolyn gave me the freedom to work independently on a problem but was there to answer questions or clarify an assignment when I needed help. As a result, I ended the summer with several writing samples (one was a letter to Michigan county sheriffs about ICE detention and another was a motion to reopen on a U-Visa case). I’m proud of the work I did and hopeful that my experience will help me as I look for a permanent job this semester.
Finally, I really loved getting to meet MIRC’s clients. There was a lot of direct client contact this summer. This included meeting clients at the Hispanic Women’s Center in Grand Rapids, answering questions over the phone, conducting interviews at client’s homes, going to immigration proceedings in Detroit, etc. I got to brush up my Spanish and hear the amazing and difficult stories that MIRC clients had to tell. The hardest part about leaving at the end of the summer was not getting daily updates on cases I’d become invested in! Working at MIRC was rewarding because I knew I was helping battered immigrants get help and stabilize their immigration statuses. I can’t recommend this internship highly enough!