Two American University Washington College of Law Alumnae Selected as Immigrant Justice Corps Fellows

Kathryn Kimball ’16 and Cecilia Lopez ’16 Will Help Provide Legal Assistance to Immigrants Fighting Deportation through Partnerships with New York Non-Profits

Prof. Rathod with students
Professor Jayesh Rathod with students in the Immigrant Justice Clinic.

Two American University Washington College of Law alumnae have been named to the third class of Immigrant Justice Corps (IJC) Fellows, the country’s first fellowship program dedicated to meeting the need for high-quality legal assistance for immigrants seeking citizenship and fighting deportation.

Kathryn Kimball ’16 and Cecilia Lopez ’16 join AUWCL graduates Christina Elhaddad ’15 and Wilson Osorio ’14, selected in 2015 and 2014, respectively, working at organizations in New York City to provide direct services to low-income immigrants. 

Both fellows will continue the work they have been involved in at AUWCL through clinic activities and the student-run Immigrants’ Rights Coalition. “The Immigrant Justice Corps is a highly competitive and nationally renowned fellowship program,” says Professor Jayesh Rathod, director of the Immigrant Justice Clinic. “Kathryn and Cecilia’s selection as Immigrant Justice Corps fellows reflects their own excellence and the strong reputation of AUWCL in the field of immigration law. We are fortunate to have among our alumni some of the leading figures in the field.”

Kathryn Kimball ’16

Kathryn KimballKimball grew up in Antwerp, Belgium, where she was raised in an immigrant community. Being exposed to immigrants with varying statuses and opportunities first opened her eyes to the vast consequences that immigration policy has on individuals and families. Later, she had the opportunity to serve for a year and a half in a Latino community in Texas. This sparked her interest in immigration law and was the catalyst for her decision to attend law school to pursue a career fighting for immigrants’ rights. Kimball will be placed at Legal Services of New York.

“I am excited to jump in and work in an area that I am passionate about, and in a position I hope can really make a difference. I feel that my time at AUWCL has prepared me with the knowledge and practical experience I need to hit the ground running,” says Kimball.

Cecilia Lopez ’16

Cecilia LopezRaised by a Mexican immigrant, Lopez’s commitment to helping immigrant communities stems from her mother’s experience. Seeing her mother navigate the complex immigration process alone, she was inspired to become an advocate for immigrant communities. She did this through her work at the Immigrant and Human Rights Clinic at the Florida Coastal School of Law, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), the National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project at AUWCL, and as a volunteer with Florida Rural Services, Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR), and the CARA Project. She is committed to continue helping immigrant communities and provide them with the support and protection that they deserve. Lopez will be working at Catholic Charities in the Lower Hudson Valley.

“I am thrilled to be joining the Immigrant Justice Corps. Throughout law school, I focused my time learning about immigration law, and looked for opportunities to help the immigrant community,” said Lopez. “After learning how excessive the need for legal assistance for immigrant families was, I focused on finding ways to be a part of the solution.”

The new fellows begin the program on September 1, 2016, with three intensive weeks of training. “IJC provides the fellows with an extraordinary training at the beginning of the fellowship, so as a recent graduate, I am fortunate enough to receive this comprehensive training and excited to learn from it. I am most excited to be a part of a working solution to ensure access to justice for immigrant families who would otherwise be unable to afford help,” added Lopez.

Launched in 2014 by Chief Judge Robert Katzmann of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to address the growing issue of inadequate representation in New York City and across the country, IJC has represented more than 2,000 families in complex immigration matters. Under the supervision of experienced lawyers at partner non-profit legal services providers and community-based organizations, the fellows will offer a broad range of immigration assistance, including naturalization, deportation defense, and affirmative application for asylum seekers, juveniles, and victims of crime, domestic violence, or human trafficking.