Take the First Step and Just Apply for the Maggio Fellowship!
Any law student looking for opportunities to network and train in immigration should consider applying to the Maggio Fellowship. As the most recent Maggio Fellow, I appreciated the various ways the fellowship allowed me to not only support my work helping local immigrants with a fantastic non-profit organization, the same work I hope to do upon graduation, but also expanded my network of attorneys at the 2023 AILA Annual Conference. If you are passionate about immigration, this fellowship offers the opportunity for a law student to get a glimpse into the profession.
The fellowship allowed me to dive deeper into my existing community relationships and work with the Raise the Floor Alliance (RTF Alliance). As a fellow, I had the opportunity to prepare Deferred Action Labor Enforcement (DALE – which also works a motivational acronym in Spanish) applications throughout my tenure there. I learned more about how immigration law intersected with Illinois employment law, and how a client’s legal issues are often more complex and connected to other areas of law.
Prior to being a fellow at RTF Alliance, I volunteered as a Spanish intake interpreter, and I continued this work during the summer when RTF Alliance’s services were requested by labor and worker organizations who serve underrepresented communities. Preparing these applications and interacting with these local partners and community members gave me many learning opportunities for my future as an attorney.
In addition to community organizing, I got to witness first-hand the importance of effective communication among attorneys and community stakeholders regarding current legal issues with immigration and labor. From these discussions, I learned how the exploitation of immigrants can be prevented with stronger legal protections for those with no legal status in the United States. One such instance was when RTF Alliance met with another organization with similar goals, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF). MALDEF’s Midwest Regional Counsel, Griselda Vega Samuel, met with RTF Alliance to discuss how to seek legal reform both judicially and legislatively. I was also excited to be part of a meeting with the Chief Legal Counsel from the Illinois Department of Labor, Andrew Fox, and his team. The conversation between the RTF Alliance and the Department of Labor demonstrates a real interest in improving labor standards in Illinois and was an example of community-building at its best.
Another key aspect of the fellowship is being able to attend the AILA Annual Conference. Attending the conference meant being able to participate in learning sessions and meet with AILA members from all over the country. AILA provided me with a fantastic mentor for the conference: Jena Decker-Xu. Jena works at Fragomen at their Arizona branch, and it was great to hear some “war stories” from a seasoned attorney in the field. She also shared her experiences about what it is like to be a mother and an attorney. In addition to the seemingly endless opportunities to network built into the conference schedule, I volunteered as a Spanish interpreter for AILA’s pro bono clinic, where I was paired up with a volunteer attorney to assist Orlando-based lawful permanent residents take the final steps toward citizenship. I learned more about the citizenship application process and gained more professional experience interpreting to ensure clients understood the process.
My experience as a Maggio Fellow was rewarding and inspiring. The work I was able to do, the learning opportunities, and the chance to connect with attorneys to hear their experiences were all invaluable. Because of this opportunity, I am better prepared to enter the legal field and have a fuller understanding of the challenges and rewards of following my dream to become an immigration attorney. If you are looking for a career in immigration as a law student, I encourage you to consider applying to the Maggio Fellowship.
Applications are due February 16, 2024. If you have more questions, reach out to Erin Lynum at email@example.com.