Immigrant Justice Clinic: Bringing the AU Dream to Afghan Colleagues

Left to right, IJC students Rosemary Ramirez, Natalie Bishop, Andrew Chmielarski, and Doyeon Kim
Left to right, IJC students Rosemary Ramirez, Natalie Bishop, Andrew Chmielarski, and Doyeon Kim

The Immigrant Justice Clinic (IJC) provides representation on a broad range of cases and projects involving individual immigrants and migrants, and their communities, both in the D.C. metropolitan area and overseas.

The Defending the AU Dream Initiative (“AU Dream”) is a part of IJC. The mission of AU Dream is to provide free immigration legal services to undocumented and noncitizen students at American University and in the Washington, DC area in order to remove a barrier to higher education. Each semester, a team of clinic students works on AU Dream projects that serve clients in the local higher education community.

In September 2021, a team of four law students jumped into action to help their Afghan colleagues at American University. During their first two weeks of clinic, students interviewed clients, gathered evidence, completed immigration forms, and filed 11 humanitarian parole applications on behalf of their clients’ Afghan family members in Kabul. 

Reflecting on this experience, 3L Andrew Chmielarski wrote, "Working on the humanitarian parole applications was simultaneously the most overwhelming and fulfilling thing I’ve done this semester, and probably in law school altogether. It made me appreciate the complexity and sheer size of the application process and, more importantly, the human and emotional aspect of our work."

3L Doyeon Kim noted that working on these applications “reminded me once again that all that I learn impacts real life people, and sometimes that gets missed while in law school.”

Since these initial filings, AU Dream has provided additional free legal consultations and representation on humanitarian parole and asylum cases for Afghan students and scholars in the DC area.