June 01, 2011

Rachael Federico

Sponsors Organized to Assist Refugees, Portland, OR

Sponsors Organized to Assist Refugees, Portland, OR 


I worked for Sponsors Organized to Assist Refugees (SOAR) in Portland.  The organization helps immigrants and their families with many different kinds of immigration-related services, including naturalization, permanent residency, and temporary protective status.  There is also a special program to help Cuban and Haitian refugees.

Over the summer, I completed several special projects, including a voter education program during which I was able to help educate new citizens about their right to vote.  The program covered topics such as how to avoid common mistakes on ballots, absentee ballot procedure, and voting-related laws such as laws prohibiting individuals from casting ballots by proxy.  These presentations also provided support for new citizens to understand the voter registration forms and passport applications.

I also completed many intakes and consultations with new potential naturalization clients.   Throughout the duration of my internship, SOAR saw over 100 people (36 in May, 53 in June, and even more in July).  Many of these clients had initial consultations with me, and I was able to help with additional client support such as letters to their physicians explaining the N-648 form.  I received a lot of practical experience and training working with naturalization issues, as well as in-depth training on the N-400 form, or application for naturalization.

Throughout the duration of my internship, I completed and submitted 18 legal memos.  These memos covered topics ranging from removability and inadmissibility to marital status and adoption.  When I began working at SOAR, my knowledge of immigration law was extremely limited.  However, I now have confidence in my understanding of basic immigration law.  As I am taking immigration law in the fall semester, this knowledge is invaluable to me, and I know that my research materially helped clients.  These immigration issues really fascinated me, and affirmed my desire to pursue immigration law as my future career.

            I chose to work at SOAR because of my commitment to public interest immigration law.  Immigrants make up a large portion of marginalized individuals in the U.S., and they are a very vulnerable population.  Now more than ever, individuals arriving from other countries need skilled legal support with their issues, and I was very proud to be a small part of the effort to protect individuals and their families.