Via Harvard Law Today

Highlighting the international experiences of five of the 2016 Chayes Fellows

In the summer of 2016, 87 Harvard Law School students worked in 30 countries on a diverse array of projects; 19 of those students traveled to 13 countries through the Chayes International Public Service Fellowship Program. Chayes Fellows spend eight weeks working within the governments of developing nations, or with the inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations that support them. Their projects take many forms (see a related gallery), this year addressing topics ranging from violence against children in Thailand to transitional justice processes in Colombia to freedom of expression in Poland. The profiles below highlight the experiences of five of the 2016 Chayes Fellows.

Edith Sangüeza ’18
Instituto para las Mujeres en la Migración, Mexico City, Mexico

Edith Sangüeza ’18

Credit: Lorin Granger

Edith Sangüeza’s interest in immigration issues goes back to her undergraduate degree in ethnicity, race, and migration. But it wasn’t until she was faced with the reality of immigration issues as a teacher in California and Mexico that she considered immigration law as a career path. Working with a large Latino population, Sangüeza heard first-hand from her students and their families of the vulnerability and day-to-day difficulties they faced. “I realized I couldn’t doanything. I could listen and be aware, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it, and I saw law school as a way to actually learn more about immigration policy and learn about the laws we have and about how to be an advocate.”

As a 1L, Sangüeza joined the Harvard Immigration Project’s Removal Defense Project, and took Professor Gerald Neuman’s Immigration Law class. For the summer, she knew she wanted to return to Mexico, work on direct client representation, and learn more about policy from the Mexican perspective.

With the Instituto para las Mujeres en la Migración (IMUMI), an organization dedicated to advocating for migrant women and children, Sangüeza worked with Emily Norman ‘15, an IMUMI immigration lawyer and 2013 Chayes Fellow. Sangüeza interviewed and drafted declarations for clients seeking humanitarian visas in categories designated for victims of criminal activity and violence against women, and wrote a paper on the challenges faced by transnational families, who are often unable to access social services if they do not have specific, and difficult to obtain, identification documents.

“It was fascinating to see what immigration looks like from outside the U.S., seeing what the challenges are, the different processes, and getting a chance to compare it to the Mexican immigration system,” says Sangüeza, “it was important to see that there is life in Mexico after deportation–that one can build a productive and happy life. But it shouldn’t be as difficult as it is–they shouldn’t have so many legal obstacles on top of all the practical obstacles that they face.”

Sangüeza’s experience has reaffirmed her desire to work in the immigration field. She is again working with the Removal Defense Team, as well as with the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau’s family practice, and is hoping to spend her next summer working on issues at the intersection of criminal law and immigration.

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