By Michael Lukens
As part of this year’s DC Pro Bono Week, the Capital Area Immigrant’s Rights (CAIR) Coalition teamed up with area law firms to provide immigration-focused “Know Your Rights” presentations to students and families at three DC high schools. Lawyers from Baker Botts visited Theodore Roosevelt High School, lawyers from Covington & Burling visited Cardozo Education Campus, and lawyers from Sutherland Asbill & Brennen visited Bell Multicultural High School.
At each school, students and their families received information about the rights, legal options, and potential pitfalls for noncitizens living in the United States. Topics included how immigration courts work, how to respond to police requests for identification, and how to avoid legal scams. Presentations were made in both English and Spanish.
The attendees were delighted and full of questions—peppering some of the presenters long after the allotted time with questions about living as a noncitizen in Washington, DC. One young woman, intent on going to college, asked wonderful questions about how an immigrant could gain lawful status while also protecting her family. At another school, we learned that the process for going from a green card holder to citizen is not very well understood in the community—we were able to clarify the process and provide relief to some concerned attendees.
The Know Your Rights presentations are a unique way for attorneys to get into the local community and provide a much-needed legal service without taking on a full pro bono case. Without these types of sessions, local communities often don’t know where to find accurate immigration information. CAIR Coalition and Washington Council of Lawyers are grateful for the time and dedication of the attorneys and school officials involved.