Child and Family Justice Clinic helps middle school families prepare for immigration emergencies

April 26, 2017 - Sarah Steadman

Phil Davies (Class of ‘17)
Phil Davies (Class of ‘17) participated in the Child and Family Justice Clinic project of developing, presenting and distributing an Emergency Child Safety Plan kit to more than 500 middle school students.

Given the current climate of fear among undocumented families, how can parents safeguard their children? Are there any legal tools that serve as a safety net and don’t involve going to court?  

Students in the UNM School of Law Child and Family Justice Clinic (CFJC) recently addressed these questions and more to 500 middle school students at Van Buren Middle School, many from undocumented families.

CFJC students developed, presented and distributed an Immigration Emergency Child Safety Plan kit (the students also translated it into Spanish) designed to help immigrant families prepare for immigration emergencies – such as the detention or deportation of a family member, just as families would plan in case of a natural disaster.

Isabella Pacheco (Class of ‘17)
Isabella Pacheco (Class of ‘17) gives a presentation on how families can prepare for immigration emergencies.

The kit contains information, legal forms and lists of important documents and information used to create an emergency-preparedness plan. “The emphasis is not on being scared, or heightening fears, but on being prepared and aiming to address our client's and our community's anxiety,” says Visiting Professor Sarah Steadman, who teaches the CFJC.

"We know that families are facing a lot of fear and anxiety in today's immigration climate; by helping them develop a plan we can help ease some of those anxieties,” says Phil Davies.

The CFJC is focused on serving at-risk children and families who face racial and social injustice, including hostility in the current political climate regarding their immigration status. CFJC students will continue educating the community and distributing the plan to clinic clients, community groups and service providers.

CFJC students who participated were Phil Davies, Lisa Giandomenico, Isabella Pacheco, Josh Alt, Adam Oakey and Joe Thiel.

“It's been an incredibly rewarding experience giving people practical tools that they can use to keep their families safe," says Davies.

Lisa Giandomenico, Adam Oakey and Joe Thiel (all Class of ‘17)
CFJC students Josh Alt (leading this presentation), Lisa Giandomenico, Adam Oakey and Joe Thiel (all Class of ‘17) focused on reducing fear and increasing preparedness.
“I could not be more proud of their enthusiasm and commitment to this social justice work,” says Steadman.