Seattle University School of Law has partnered with Refugee & Immigrant Services Northwest to provide legal assistance to over 30 Ukrainians seeking refuge in WA.
EVERETT, Wash. – Seattle University School of Law has partnered with Refugee & Immigrant Services Northwest Sunday to provide legal assistance to more than 30 Ukrainians seeking refuge in WA.
Most of them have recently arrived in Snohomish County after traveling through several countries. Seattle University said they were granted humanitarian parole, which is temporary. The granting of asylum offers permanent protection, but the process can take up to two years. Students help them complete designation applications; they will then be referred to affordable legal services to complete the process.
Associate Professor Deirdre Bowen, Moccasin Lake Foundation Chair in Family Law, has matched mentor attorneys with students recruited into her classes to lead the seminars.
“[Applying for asylum is] very difficult; I don’t want to underestimate the level of challenge,” Bowen said. “It’s a practice that’s been going on for years because the government is so backed up with asylum applications that it can take a year or more to get the initial interview with the asylum officer. and sometimes from there it goes to court.”
Clinic students helped families complete initial applications, with the help of local attorneys for oversight. They will also revisit these cases as applicants progress through the process.
“It’s been so hard to be here and watch everything that’s going on, so when I saw that it was an opportunity for us to get involved, to do something and to help people, I jumped at the chance,” said Gabriel Neuman, one of the students. volunteer for the session.
Seattle University partnered with Refugee and Immigrant Services, which works to help relocate refugees, to set up the clinic.
“Anything I can do to help and change their situation, even a little, was important to me,” said Dorsa Bazeghi, another student helping at the clinic.
While students see it as a way to help, Seattle University said it’s also a way to strengthen their holistic legal education.
“One thing that we sometimes forget as lawyers is that there’s the law, I have to follow certain legal standards,” Bowen said. “It’s an opportunity for them to see beyond the case book that there are human beings who have had an experience and some of these refugees today have had horribly, horribly traumatic experiences, and I want may they develop empathy forever remember these are human beings and part of your skills as a lawyer is learning empathy.”
Bowen says the need for help like this will only increase as more refugees arrive in the United States. They will continue legal aid services and welcome local lawyers willing to help.