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McKanders leads Immigration Practice Clinic helping refugees

by Sep. 6, 2018, 2:09 PM

Clinical Professor of Law Karla McKanders has spent her professional life focused on researching and practicing immigrant and refugee law. She is now directing the first Immigration Practice Clinic at Vanderbilt Law School, where students do pro bono work with refugees.

McKanders can explain the legal process families and children go through once they cross the border and what pro bono immigration lawyers do for refugees. Her scholarship focuses on immigration federalism and international systems for processing refugees.

McKanders and her students wrote amicus briefs for Attorney General Jeff Sessions on the federal immigration litigation:

“The students’ amicus brief provides attorneys and advocates the existing case law with the Board of Immigration Appeals, every Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court that harms inflicted by private actors can constitute persecution when the state is unwilling or unable to protect the applicant. The brief also confirms that it is well established that such harms can constitute persecution with respect to every protected ground under the Immigration and Nationality Act § 101(a)(42). It is our hope that advocates and attorneys can utilize the amicus brief as a starting point in advocating for their clients who may be impacted by the Attorney General’s decision.”

Educating law enforcement

McKanders regularly provides training to police officers and government officials on immigration law and consults with faculty, lawyers and nonprofit organizations in the Middle East and North Africa addressing disparities in access to justice faced by immigrant and refugee populations.

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