Hello, my name is Meg Keiser and I am in my final semester of my senior year at Whitman. This past academic year, I have been a year long Whitman Internship Grant recipient working at Hernandez Immigration Law in downtown Walla Walla. I am a sociology major with minors in Hispanic studies and psychology, and am interested in pursuing a career in law. It has been a pleasure interning at Hernandez Immigration Law, for it easily blends my academic and career interests together, as well as allows me the opportunity to learn about immigration law and law in general.
In addition to completing translations, drafting letters for clients, filing, and assisting the attorneys and staff members, I also help with special projects at the law firm. My most recent project was to help with a presentation in February. The Walla Walla Public Library hosts a series of “Big Idea Talks” with the purpose of generating community conversation about various important topics. Hernandez Immigration Law was asked to give a “Big Idea Talk” about DACA in light of the pending supreme court decision debating the constitutionality of the policy. My supervisor asked if I would be interested in taking charge of the project, and I happily obliged!
To prepare for the one hour talk, I had to conduct a lot of research. I knew the basics and the premise of DACA, but needed to learn much more in order to be successful in the presentation, and I thought I’d share some important information about DACA in this blog post. First, DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It’s a policy that allows young people brought to the United States as children to be eligible for a 2 year work permit, a social security number, and lower priority for deportation. To be eligible for DACA, there are many requirements, including age requirements, only allowing for a relatively small portion of undocumented individuals to be eligible for the program. The policy was introduced by the Obama Administration in 2012, but in 2017, the Trump Administration announced its intention to phase out the program. Right now, the constitutionality of the program is being debated before the U.S. Supreme Court and a decision is yet to come. The fate of DACA is up in the air and thousands of young people’s lives could be changed forever. DACA has allowed many recipients the ability to obtain work and education opportunities, establish credit, get a driver’s license, obtain health insurance among many other things. While DACA has its benefits and drawbacks, it has undoubtedly improved the lives of many of its recipients.
While it was nerve wracking to give such a long presentation to a crowd of strangers, it was an amazing opportunity to educate myself about the complexities of DACA. Additionally, the opportunity to educate community members on this topic was incredibly important considering the national discussion about DACA and the community of DACA recipients that are our neighbors right here in Walla Walla. I’m grateful that the Whitman Internship Grant has given me the opportunity to have experiences like this, and I am eager to continue learning about immigration law at my internship.
Experiences like Meg’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