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Immigrant Rights

International student calls upon experience as an immigrant in her legal studies

Aisosa Arhunmwunde is a third-year law student at The University of Tulsa College of Law who is working towards a career in immigration law. Originally born in Nigeria, Arhunmwunde immigrated with her family to Canada where she earned her undergraduate degree in philosophy from the University of Manitoba.

After college, she decided to continue her education in law school. “I realized early that laws are dormant until a person is there to enforce and interpret them for people,” said Arhunmwunde. “It was then that I realized I wanted to be the voice of those who needed help with their legal rights.”

“TU Law allowed me to start school in the spring semester.”

Originally, Arhunmwunde looked at TU Law because she wanted to begin law school in the spring semester and TU offers spring, summer and fall starts. After she compared schools, she realized that TU’s robust experiential learning program, excellent academics, diverse student body and the affordable cost of obtaining a legal education was right for her.

She worked with asylum-seekers in Ireland.

During law school, Arhunmwunde has focused her interests on immigration law by working at TU’s Immigrant Resource Network and Immigrant Rights Project. During the summer months, Arhunmwunde took her studies abroad through TU’s Study Abroad program and interned at the Irish Refugee Council in Dublin helping clients who were seeking asylum.

Elizabeth McCormick, JD, associate dean of Experiential Learning and director of the Clinical Education Program at TU Law said, “Aisosa brings the unique and valuable perspective of her own experience as an immigrant and international student to her work with immigrant clients. She has seized on every available opportunity to gain first-hand experience in immigration law and in representing real clients. The combination of her intellect, passion and empathy will be a great benefit to her and her clients in the future.

After completing her internship, Arhunmwunde traveled to Ghana which was funded by TU Law’s Public Interest Board. Based in Accra, she conducted interviews with citizens on the street who were displaced in order to help them find living spaces. She was one of a cadre of students from around the world there to conduct human rights work in the field.

“Law school is challenging but worth it if you choose the right one for you.”

“It is truly rewarding to have a client whose case you’ve work on call and tell you their asylum is approved and they no longer fear going to jail. It is so worth it,” said Arhunmwunde. “Law school is challenging like everything worthwhile, but it is easier and more enjoyable if you choose a law school that gives you the tools and sets you up for success before you put a foot out of the door.” During her time at TU Law, Arhunmwunde served as the associate editor of the Energy Law Journal, secretary of the Black American Law Students Association and was a member of the Women’s Law Caucus, Board of Advocates and the West African Students Association.

For more information on the TU College of Law, visit us online.

King and Yeakley join McAfee & Taft

TU Law alumni and 2017 honors graduates Andrew M. King and Stanton Yeakley have joined Oklahoma’s largest law firm, McAfee & Taft.

Andrew King is a transactional lawyer whose practice encompasses a broad range of business and commercial matters, including business entity formation and organization, mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, real estate transactions, contract negotiations, business taxation and family wealth planning.

King graduated with highest honors from The University of Tulsa College of Law, where he  worked for the Immigrant Rights Project at the Boesche Legal Clinic, was a member of the Board of Advocates and received the CALI Award for Advanced Legal Research.

Prior to embarking on his legal career, Andrew served in the Oklahoma Army National Guard for six years and led a mortar fire team in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.

Stanton Yeakley is a trial lawyer whose civil litigation practice involves the resolution of a broad range of complex commercial and business disputes in both state and federal courts and in arbitration proceedings.

Yeakley graduated with highest honors from The University of Tulsa College of Law, where he served as an editor on the Tulsa Law Review, was a member of the Phi Alpha Delta legal fraternity and the Phi Delta Phi legal honor fraternity and earned three CALI Awards. At graduation, he was named to the Order of the Curule Chair.

 

 

Stiles featured in magazine for work in immigration

This story was first seen in Tulsa People, November 2017, featuring Elissa Stiles, a 2L law student at The University of Tulsa College of Law.

Stiles serves on the TU Board of Advocates, the Immigration Law Society, Women’s Law Caucus and the Student Bar Association.

 

Welcoming refugees – Three Tulsans help others establish “home” in the U.S
By Bria Bolton Moore and Morgan Phillips

TU Law professors and students respond to DACA termination

Since President Donald Trump announced last month that his administration would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, DACA recipients, often called “dreamers,” their families and many others in our community are taking action and searching for solutions. The DACA program was created in 2012 by the Obama administration as limited protection for young adults who were brought to the U.S. as children without authorization. DACA was put in place to protect hundreds of thousands of young people who have lived and gone to school in the United States, contributed to and been outstanding members of our communities, until Congress could achieve a more permanent solution.

Listen Frontier: Will a DACA deal get done? We hear from a legal expert and a DACA recipient

DACA grants no immigration status to the dreamers, nor is it “amnesty” or a path to citizenship. Rather, DACA recipients are granted authorization to work and to continue their education in two-year increments. On September 5, the Trump administration announced it would end the DACA program. On that date, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services stopped accepting new DACA applications. Those DACA recipients whose status expires between September 5, 2017 and March 8, 2018, were given until October 5, 2017 to apply for a two-year renewal of their DACA status. All other DACA recipients will lose that status and their employment authorization when their current status expires.

Currently, there are 886,814 DACA recipients in the U.S. with 7,488 in Tulsa. More than 90 percent of the Oklahoma DACA-eligible populace are at least 16 years old and are employed, earning nearly $146.3 million annually and contributing more than $20.3 million in taxes according to the Tulsa World.

Read about the Tulsa Community’s reaction to the DACA rescission, including an interview with Professor Elizabeth McCormick here.

“Oklahomans enrolled in DACA have few, if any, options to become documented,” said TU Law Associate Clinical Professor Elizabeth McCormick, who teaches in the Immigrant Rights Project clinical program and has expertise in immigration, refugee and asylum law. “There is nothing that the current administration is doing to create new options for them. I recommend that DACA enrollees should consult with an experienced immigration attorney about options. There aren’t a lot of options and that’s why most of these kids applied for DACA in the first place.”

Congress has been attempting to pass the Dream Act for 17 years, but currently there is no legislative pathway that creates an opportunity for these children, now adults, to remain the U.S. In fact, it’s been at least 50 years since laws regarding the avenues for legal immigration were updated. If we don’t change the laws in a way that creates avenues for legal immigration to the U.S., it will never fix the problem entirely,” said McCormick.

According to TU Law’s Mimi Marton, director of the TU Law Co-op and the Tulsa Immigrant Resource Network, there are additional complications for “dreamers” in Tulsa. “Due to agreements between Tulsa County and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), each person booked into the David. L. Moss Criminal Justice Center is checked by ICE for immigration status. Those who are without status, are put into immigration proceedings often leading to the deportation of long-time residents with no criminal history who have, for example, unpaid traffic violations.” Marton pointed out that the City of Tulsa has approved a plan to create a separate city jail so that those who have only city violations will not be booked at David L. Moss. City official says that the new jail will mitigate a lot of fear among undocumented residents in Tulsa County and will provide a mechanism for those residents to pay parking fines without fear of deportation.

See an interview with TU Law’s Mimi Marton regarding the proposed city jail here.

TU President Gerard P. Clancy has joined with hundreds of other university leaders to encourage elected officials to uphold DACA. TU is a richly diverse campus willing to accept and empower students regardless of immigration status and implores policy makers to maintain and open dialogue and help young “dreamers” pave a path to citizenship.

Several organizations in the Tulsa area have held information sessions regarding DACA including the YWCA, which has offered 500 free legal consultations to DACA enrollees. TU Law students recently helped staff a DACA renewal clinic in collaboration with Dream Act Oklahoma and several local attorneys to provide free legal assistance to the dreamers eligible to renew their DACA one last time.