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Tales from the Trenches

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  • Akbar Hossain L’18 - Losing humanity: Opinions on the dark turn immigration has taken in America
    Article excerpt:The immigration debate in the United States has taken a dark turn.

    Suddenly, we went from discussing comprehensive immigration reform to a full-fledged assault on immigrant communities. Over the last few months, presidential executive orders and Department of Homeland Security memos point to our shared demise from a nation that was built on the bedrock of hope and perseverance – to one that is slowly losing its humanity.

    On Feb. 22, the Department of Homeland Security released two memos signed by Secretary John Kelly, outlining policies to implement the president’s immigration enforcement agenda contained in executive orders signed on Jan. 25. One key provision of the memos includes upending the Obama administration’s removal priorities, which prioritized deportations of foreign nationals who have been convicted of certain crimes. Instead, the Trump administration has changed focus to removing persons charged with or suspected of having committed any crime, even without a conviction. Read more here.

  • Harper Seldin L’14 and Mary Catherine Roper L’93 - ACLU Takes Legal Action to Defend Rights of Transgender Students at Berks County School
    Article excerpt: The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Pennsylvania filed a legal motion today to defend a Berks County school district’s practice of allowing students to use restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.

    The motion was submitted in a lawsuit that is seeking to overturn the district’s practice. The ACLU’s action was filed on behalf of Aidan DeStefano, a student at Boyertown Area Senior High who is transgender, and the Pennsylvania Youth Congress, a coalition of LGBTQ youth leaders and youth organizations, including the Boyertown GSA, whose members include transgender students who would be harmed by the lawsuit.  

    “Transgender students just want what everyone else wants, to be accepted for who we are,” said DeStefano. “Reversing the practices that have allowed me and other trans kids to thrive at school would be devastating.” Read more here.

  • Leona Goldshaw L’04 - Co-Director of Indivisible Northwest Philly

    Article excerpt: “Indivisible Northwest Philly is one of the hundreds of groups across the country mobilizing under the name ‘Indivisible,’” she said. “Our strategies are built around the Indivisible Guide, an online resource written by former Congressional staffers outlining the most effective way to mobilize Congress to resist Trump’s agenda. The guide draws from the successful approach of the Tea Party, whose resistance led to the effective takeover of the Republican Party and the election of Donald Trump.

    “We believe that Trump’s agenda is racist, authoritarian and corrupt, and it must be stopped,” Goldshaw told the packed auditorium. The audience responded by cheering and clapping. Read more here.

  • Carr L’79, Sullivan, & Gross on Tenants Rights
    American law recognizes the sanctity of our homes in many ways, but that is not visible when families stand in our courtrooms unrepresented and worried about ending up in the streets. Two major U.S. cities - Washington, D.C., and New York City - are currently considering local laws that will ensure a right to legal counsel for individuals facing eviction or foreclosure proceedings. And now, thanks to a resolution introduced by Councilwoman Helen Gym, Philadelphia is exploring becoming the third. Read more here.
  • Sean McGrath L’16, Independence Fellow at Education Law Center

    As an Independence Fellow at the Education Law Center I represent families of very young children with disabilities. The main assistance I provide is to help vulnerable families gain access to early intervention services for their child. Early intervention is a voluntary and free entitlement for qualifying children and includes different types of therapies tailored to help each child overcome developmental delays. Access to quality early intervention can have a huge impact on the early development, school performance, and health. If you know a family who has a young child with a disability or developmental delay and is struggling, please let them know the Education Law Center may be able help. If you are an attorney interested in high-impact pro-bono opportunities for vulnerable children, Education Law Center may be able to connect you with needy clients.

  • Nina Martinez L’15 discusses her Employment Mediation Project at the New York Legal Assistance Group

    I am in the second year of my Skadden Fellowship at the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG). By way of background, I developed the Employment Mediation Project as an extension of the Divorce Mediation Project first established by NYLAG senior staff attorney, Antoinette Delruelle, in 2013. The project aims to provide low-income New Yorkers with an alternative to litigation of their employment disputes. These disputes include wage and hour violations, employment discrimination, and issues regarding accommodations. Additionally, as a Skadden Fellow I represent plaintiffs in the mediation of their employment discrimination matters in the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York. I recently wrote an article about workplace rights for pregnant women, which can be found here.

  • Akbar Hossain L’18 Speaks to CNN about Travel Ban
    Hossain discusses his family’s immigration story and shares his thoughts on recent executive orders limiting travelers from several Muslim-majority countries. Read Akbar’s perspectives here.
  • Frank Broomell L’19 - Washington Needs More Veterans
    Frank Broomell is a Penn Law student and Marine Corps veteran. In his article for Military Times, Frank explains the importance of having more veterans in Congress.
  • Valerie Baron L’12, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Washington, DC

    I work to defend our bedrock environmental laws that protect public health and environment, as well as to make our food system, just, healthy, and safe for all. As an Equal Justice Works Law Fellow sponsored by the Animal Welfare Trust I focus on factory farms, which endanger communities and cause animal suffering. Recently, the bedrock environmental laws that lawyers and other advocates have relied upon to advance public health and animal welfare have come under threat. I have joined with others at the Natural Resources Defense Council to stand up for the environment, public health, communities, and the laws and regulations that protect us. Read more about our work here.

  • Sheerine Alemzadeh L’11, Healing to Action, Chicago, IL

    I co-founded Healing to Action, a new organization that advances a worker-led movement to end gender violence, centering the voices of communities most likely to experience gender violence in developing solutions to end it. Healing to Action envisions worker leaders creating safe, just workplaces and stable economic futures free from gender-based violence. Healing to Action cultivates worker leadership to transform community, statewide, and national responses to gender-based violence, builds capacity in grassroots organizations, and convenes the Coalition Against Workplace Sexual Violence, which unites attorneys, labor organizers and anti-violence advocates behind worker-led solutions. Read more about our work here.