Las Vegas personal injury law firm, Edward M. Bernstein and Associates, is a proud sponsor of the Immigration Clinic at the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law. The clinic was founded in 2003 and has since done amazing work for immigrant children who are seeking protection from violence. Many of their clients, as young as four years old, arrive in the United States under tragic conditions. For one’s case to be accepted by the clinic, the child must be considered an unaccompanied minor, a status which means the child has been brought into the country without his or her guardian. This can occur for a variety of reasons, many of which include escaping gang violence, kidnapping by drug cartels or an instance of human trafficking.
Our office is fortunate to have one of the student attorneys at the Immigration Clinic, Jason May, as an employee at our firm. Jason is a third-year law student at Boyd and is licensed to defend the children at the clinic under the supervision of his professor, Michael Kagan. Over the past couple weeks, Jason has been victorious in two cases in the Clark County Family Courts. A victory for the clinic in this court means secure guardianship for the children, who are separated from the families that raised them before they had to flee their countries. Family court proceedings are also a critical first step to the child being able to stay in the country.
Prior to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) deciding on residency for the child, guardianship and the facts of the case must be determined in family court. Due to this, one of the clinic’s main goals is to inform the family court justices about the power of their decisions. It is important for them to understand that they are not making decisions about immigration status. However, these decisions are fundamental to the child’s case because the facts that emerge from the family court hearings are used by the USCIS to make the final decision of the child’s residential status. The family court is the only place where a judge will assess whether it is in the child’s best interest to return to their country.
We are very proud of the work that Jason, Michael and the rest of the clinic are doing for their clients. As one can imagine, this process is a very difficult time for children. They are in a foreign place, often do not speak the language and are being required to testify in court on an issue that will drastically alter their quality of life. The Immigration Clinic is an invaluable asset for them throughout this stage and our firm is committed to helping in any way we can.