Lizbeth Llanes-Macias ’21 launches into law to support the Walla Walla immigrant community at Hernandez Immigration Law in Walla Walla, WA

My name is Lizbeth Llanes-Macias, I am a rising junior majoring in Spanish and Sociology. This summer I am interning at Hernandez Immigration Law in Walla Walla. I decided to intern at Hernandez Immigration Law because of the large impact the office has in the immigrant community of Walla Walla, as an immigrant myself I am very thankful for the work they do.

Over the past few weeks I have learned so much, it is so incredible! My first days consisted of getting familiarized with the work they do… knowing the basic such as naming the forms and what each of them are for. At first, I would go back home and think and try to memorize all the forms! I-90, I-130, I-130A, I-131, N-400, G-28 and all the abbreviations my co-workers used daily: AOS, EWI, LPR, USC

Then, during my first staff meeting, after going around asking how everybody was doing. I expressed to everybody I was just trying to memorize all of the abbreviations and names for the forms. One of the attorneys responded back to me and said I did not need to memorize all of that because I would become more familiarize with all the work with time and work. At the moment I thought she was saying that to make me feel better, however now I can say I have really learned and feel more comfortable each day when talking about forms and law-lingo.

As an intern at Hernandez Immigration Law my responsibilities are mostly identical to the responsibilities of a paralegal—the only difference is I am more supervised! One major part consists of translating and interpreting from English to Spanish or vice versa. I learned how to interpret from a young age since my parents did not know English. But it has been very different to interpret from my parents or family friends to people who I do not know because I feel more pressure knowing they are trusting me with their whole lives. The first clients that I interpreted for, I was very nervous and anxious! But with more and more practice I have become more confident and loose less words when interpreting simultaneously. This part of my internship has allowed me to learn about the passion and enjoyment I feel when helping people overcome a language barrier.

The other major part has been the exposure to filling out different types of forms and listening to each of a client’s personal stories. So far, I have completed an I-130 formally known as a Petition for Alien Relative, in other words it is the petition filed by a Lawful Permanent Resident or U.S. Citizen for an undocumented family member. The I-130A is the Supplemental form from the I-130 which is filed when the petitioner is requesting their spouse who is undocumented. When I started to fill out applications I did not feel satisfied, I felt the job was not what I expected, however with time I have come to appreciate the work that goes behind filling out all those applications—every single box you check or question you answer is a little piece of someone’s life. Throughout the whole process you are learning something new about a person, whether it’s good or bad, happy or sad. You get to meet and know the family, in person or only in pictures because they are unable visit their families back in their country of origin. This whole experience has been wholesome. As an immigrant myself I know the challenges one faces and sometimes it feels that you’re alone or that your family is the only struggling… and unfortunately there are millions of people struggling or being challenge because of all the immigration dilemmas in our country.

The experience hasn’t ended there yet! In the remaining of my internship I am scheduled to sit in at a court hearing with one of the attorneys—which I think will sum up the entire work the Hernandez Immigration Law office provides the Walla Walla community, our community.

Experiences like Lizbeth Llanes-Macias’s are made possible by the Whitman Internship Grant, which provides funding for students to participate in unpaid internships at both for-profit and non-profit organizations. To learn how you could secure a Whitman Internship Grant or host a Whitman intern at your organization, click here or contact Assistant Director for Internship Programs Mitzy Rodriguez

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