Amber Muhammad, a recent graduate of UC Berkeley School of Law and newly practicing attorney, was a Post-bar legal fellow at CAIR San Francisco Bay Area.

When I came to law school, I entered with the intent of serving communities who need help and don’t have ready access to the legal world. This is particularly a struggle many minority communities face and something I saw growing up.

 

Because laws can be challenging to navigate, I wanted to serve as a guide for those going through a difficult period. This work is meaningful and important because it can change the course of a person’s life. When someone finally receives a visa or green card, they can breathe a sigh of relief as a huge stressful weight is lifted off their shoulder.

During the pandemic, lawyers have had to learn how to keep the lines of communication open so their clients continue receiving the best care, all the while following social distancing guidelines to keep themselves and their clients healthy. Though everything was virtual due to COVID, I was still able to create connections with my clients via phone. In a field like immigration, it is especially important to maintain contact in order to meet tight deadlines with the courts and get all the pertinent information from clients on their cases. 

Last year, the team at CAIR worked hard to continue providing client-centered services. Under the Trump administration, there were unprecedented attacks on immigration relief. CAIR advocated for better policies while fighting new rules that were introduced, from public charge changes and the Muslim and African bans, to proposed asylum rule changes that would interfere with asylum seekers’ procedural protections, and much more (see our press releases for more information). 

During all of this, the immigration team also worked to provide virtual immigration clinics to help community members seeking various forms of immigration relief. They continued to provide services via phone and video conferencing in order to help clients with their paperwork, prepare for interviews, and overall create an interpersonal atmosphere from afar.  CAIR continues to be committed to providing top legal services and helping their clients through the immigration process diligently and with care and compassion through this trying time.

As clients, the immigration process can seem unclear and difficult to navigate. To help clear confusion, CAIR created checklists for various immigration forms that break down the documentation required for each type of relief. Knowing what is required can help clients understand the process and be prepared during client intakes with attorneys.  

At CAIR, I really felt like I was doing work that fit the intentions I had set for myself. Through my work, I was serving the community and helping them navigate difficult and oftentimes deeply personal situations. Working at CAIR has really given me the experience of seeing just how impactful our work is to the community we serve, and it is an experience I am deeply grateful for.  

 

This article was written by Amber Muhammad.

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(2/24/2021)