Hastings Students for Immigrants’ Rights (HSIR) is sending eight law students to Taylor, Texas, in March to support women asylum seekers who are incarcerated at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center. This year’s trip builds on the work of two previous trips to family detention centers. Three students went to Karnes, Texas, in March 2018 and 10 students went to Dilley, Texas, in May 2019. These trips represent HSIR and UC Hastings Law’s commitment to institutionalizing this advocacy work.

UC Hastings students will work as volunteers with American Gateways, which provides pro bono legal services, by preparing women for their “Credible Fear Interview,” a crucial first step in the asylum process. The students will also conduct country condition research, help attorneys draft asylum briefs, and assist with other case preparation.

Located outside Austin, the Hutto detention center is a former medium-security prison now used to detain non-U.S. citizens awaiting the outcome of their asylum applications. It is run by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and private prison operator CoreCivic.

The site has a troubled history. The facility formerly housed children and families seeking asylum. It was converted into a facility housing only women after the ACLU won a settlement in a lawsuit protesting conditions there. It now houses more than 500 women, dozens of whom have gone on hunger strikes at various times. In 2017, the FBI initiated a civil rights investigation into the center following allegations of guards sexually assaulting and harassing detainees, and retaliation against those who filed complaints about the abuse.

Hastings Students for Immigrants’ Rights provides students opportunities to engage directly with the immigration community and to gain experience as advocates, both locally and at the border.

Students interested in immigration can participate in UC Hastings’ Social Justice Lawyering concentration with two clinical opportunities to choose from:

  • The Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, in which students work directly with clients facing immigration issues, including those fighting removal proceedings, seeking political asylum, and pursuing U.S. citizenship.
  • The Refugee & Human Rights Clinic, in which students engage in human rights work and in direct representation of refugees seeking political asylum or other assistance in partnership with UC Hastings’ Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, one of the nation’s leading refugee advocacy organizations.

Hastings Students for Immigrants’ Rights is fundraising to help defray costs of the March trip for participating students. Professors Richard Boswell and Karen Musalo pledged to match $1,000 in contributions from UC Hastings faculty, staff and students.

The law school community responded, contributing more than $2,500. More information about how to support the students financially is available here.