HOPE Fellow Works on Front Lines of Immigration at Texas-Mexico Border

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This summer, HOPE Public Interest Resource Center granted HOPE Fellowships to 19 law students who are immersed in delivering services and promoting access to justice across the United States.  

Among this summer’s fellows is 2L Alexis Bay who grew up in South Texas and returned home this summer to work in Alamo, Texas with the Texas Civil Rights Project. Bay is working on the front lines at the Texas-Mexico border to assist refugees, asylum seekers, and other immigrants who have crossed the border. 

2L Alexis Bay

Why did you choose to spend your summer working with the Texas Civil Rights Project?

I chose to spend my 1L summer with the Texas Civil Rights Project because I admire the work they have accomplished over the years. I have known about the organization for many years through my work prior to law school as a community organizer. There is a lot of respect for TCRP among activists on the border. I knew early on in the processing of attending law school that TCRP is where I wanted to clerk as they undertake the critical civil rights advocacy which motivated me to go to law school in the first place. 
 
What work have you done so far this summer at TCRP? 

Since starting my clerkship with Texas Civil Rights Project in the Alamo, Texas office, I have been a part of TCRP's great effort to address the horrible practice of children and parents being separated from each other when coming into Border Patrol custody. I have gone to court to speak to parents before their hearings after they have been separated from their children twice a day and I have visited a Border Patrol processing facility and detention center to conduct Flores settlement interviews. 

On my first day of orientation, my supervising attorney filed a complaint with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights over the separation of children from families at the border and I have been able to assist with that process as well. 

Over the weekend of June 24th, TCRP kicked off a hunger strike with other activists and organizations, including Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, for 24 days in honor of the 2,400 children separated from families. I am going to participate for one day of it.

What has it been like to be on the front lines during a national pushback against separating children from families?

It has been overwhelming, at times, but overall it has been an incredible experience in terms of witnessing and being a part of what a legal response to bad policy can look like. The attorneys involved are very invested and passionate about reuniting families and it is a great motivator to be around them to push through tough days.

What has been most challenging? Most rewarding?

It has been difficult to hear the stories of why people undertake the intense and dangerous journey to come from Central America to the United States and also to hear how difficult it is for them to be separated from their children. However, it is important for us to be present and listen to these individuals as legal advocates are a means of providing assistance but we also show people respect and dignity which is what they deserve as opposed to how they are treated in immigration custody. Considering everything these families have been through, it's the least one can do with the privilege they have -- to help and to push back against attacks on families. 

Working with such an amazing team at TCRP has been one of the biggest rewards of this fellowship. The Alamo office is filled with hard working and dedicated individuals who are also kind and supportive - so shout out to the entire TCRP Alamo office. There has been a lot of support and opportunities offered to clerks all across the state and this helps a lot in doing this work.
 
How has the HOPE Fellowship impacted your career trajectory?

Thanks to the HOPE Fellowship, I have been able to take part in this work. Without this fellowship I would not have been able to make it out to the Texas-Mexico border and complete a nine-week internship. 

 
During the 2018-19 school year, Bay will participate in the yearlong Human Rights Clinic and will serve as a leader on campus through her role as the Co-Chair of the Advocacy Committee on the Public Interest Leadership Board

Since 2000, the HOPE Public Interest Resource Center has been sending summer fellows to work serving marginalized populations through unpaid internships at non-profit and governmental organizations locally, nationally and internationally