“This case helped prepare me for my career as an attorney as it allowed me to experience working with a client on filing an application with a tight deadline,” reflects USD Legal Clinics Immigration Clinic legal intern Melissa Kelm. “I also was able to experience filing a Deferred Action Childhood Arrival (DACA) renewal, which is a common application seen by immigration attorneys. The clinic has been a great experience because it allows law students to truly apply the knowledge that we’ve gained during class and through our research, showing us what it would actually be like as a practicing attorney.”
Kelm was assigned as the legal intern for a client whose DACA benefits were about to expire. The Immigration Clinic had assisted the client in obtaining her original DACA benefits. With the expiration date quickly approaching, the Immigration Clinic, under the supervision of Professor Sandra Wagner, had quick work to make of the application.
“The Immigration Clinic provides students like Melissa the opportunity not only to increase their knowledge of immigration law, but also gives them the opportunity to apply that knowledge in a practical way,” comments Professor Wagner. “Melissa’s clinic experience in this case furthered her understanding of the challenges and time management involved with meeting a deadline.”
“I met with the client to explain the DACA Renewal process, and to gather the information required for renewal,” describes Kelm. “I compiled and organized the client’s documents as well as the necessary forms, and filed the application. The process helped to practically apply my law school education by allowing me to take a case all the way through the process. This included the intake interview with the client, compiling the needed information and filing the application, and culminating in the client receiving her approval and new work authorization card.”
The client’s DACA application was submitted in December 2015 and in January 2016 the client’s case was approved. The client received her DACA approval notice and work authorization card in February 2016 prior to the expiration of the client’s original DACA benefits.
“I received an incredible amount of support from our supervising attorney Professor Wagner, who counseled me through each step of preparing and filing the application,” reflects Kelm. “After hearing the outcome of the case I felt really good knowing that I was able to compile and submit the application before the client’s current DACA period expired. It felt great knowing that I had really helped someone and made a difference in her life.”