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2018 Immigration Session Panelists Photo

2019 Summer Forum Preview: Immigration and Human Rights

By Ayush Garg

Over the past few years, immigration has become one of the hottest pro bono and public-interest fields. At our 2019 Summer Forum, the Immigration and Human Rights panel will discuss the ways that immigrant-rights organizations are working to protect the rights of immigrants and promote access to justice both in the District and around the country. The distinguished panel will discuss the issues in the headlines and the recent challenges in immigration advocacy. This is a great opportunity for law students and new lawyers to learn about the pro bono opportunities in protecting human rights and advocating for immigrants and the practical realities of making this work a central part of your career.

The moderator will be Michael Lukens, Director for Pro Bono and Operations at CAIR Coalition, a local organization seeking justice for detained immigrants and those facing detention and removal. CAIR Coalition works with individual adult and juvenile clients, and coordinates the Immigration Impact Lab, litigating appeals that will affect many immigrant families. Michael oversees all aspects of CAIR’s operations and mentors private lawyers handling pro bono cases.

Michael will moderate the following panelists:

Heidi Altman (National Immigration Justice Center)

Heidi Altman is the Director of Policy at the National Immigrant Justice Center. Previously, she served as the legal director for the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, where she oversaw the provision of legal services to men, women, and children in immigration custody as well as the provision of training and resources to pro bono attorneys and criminal defense attorneys. Heidi previously created the in-house immigration services program at the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem and served as a Teaching Fellow in the immigration clinic at Georgetown University Law Center. She regularly provides analysis of immigration laws and policy proposals to news outlets including VICE, CNN, The New York Times, and Politico.

Josh Doherty (Ayuda)

Josh Doherty is the Managing Attorney of Ayuda’s D.C. Immigration program, where he supervises a team of attorneys, BIA Accredited Representatives, Paralegals and Legal Assistants who assist immigrants in the greater D.C. area seeking a variety of humanitarian and family-based immigration remedies. Prior to becoming Managing Attorney, Josh was previously at Ayuda as a Supervising Attorney, Staff Attorney, Law Clerk, and Legal Intern. Josh has developed expertise in assisting immigrant survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Jeannine Gómez (Legal Aid Society)

Jeannine Gómez is the Senior Staff Attorney of the Immigrants’ Rights Legal Services Project of The Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia. She represents and advises clients in immigration matters and coordinates services for the immigrant client community across all of Legal Aid’s practice areas. She also serves the immigrant client community holistically through outreach and know-your-rights and family and emergency preparedness presentations. Prior to joining Legal Aid in June 2011, Jeannine worked as a staff attorney at Ayuda, where she represented immigrant survivors of domestic violence in civil protection order and related family law and immigration cases.

Claire Bergeron (Wilmer Hale)

At Wilmer Hale, Claire Bergeron’s practice focuses on complex civil litigation matters, but she maintains an active pro bono practice involving immigration law. She has written merits and amicus briefs filed with the US Supreme Court and the US Circuit Courts of Appeals, and she has represented clients in asylum claims before US Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Executive Office for Immigration Review. Prior to joining WilmerHale, Claire was an associate policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, where she co-authored several key publications on US immigration enforcement, naturalization trends, and integration issues. She also previously worked as a Board of Immigration Appeals accredited representative at the National Immigrant Justice Center in Chicago.

We are excited to hear from all our panelists at the Summer Forum, and we hope that you’ll join us on Thursday, June 20, from noon to 2:30 pm at Georgetown University Law Center. The event also features lunch and keynote remarks by Jonathan Smith, the Executive Director of The Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, and a civil rights champion. Register today.

And then join the conversation on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook using #SummerForum19!

Ayush Garg is a member of the Washington Council of Lawyers Communications Committee.