UH law school associate dean, student offer pro bono services at Texas immigration detention centerUniversity of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Media Consultant, William S. Richardson School of Law
Ronette Kawakami, associate dean for student services at the William S. RIchardson School of Law, and law student Andres Tobar will share their recent experiences as legal volunteers at a Texas immigration detention center, where hundreds of mothers and children are being held while they await adjudication for asylum in the U.S. The event featuring Kawakami and Tobar, which is open to the public, starts at 11:45 a.m. on Wednesday, November 21, in classroom 3.
Kawakami and Tobar traveled to the infamous Dilley detention center to offer pro bono legal assistance for people caught in one of the nation’s most heart-wrenching, ongoing human dramas. Legal preparation often may make the difference when asylum-seekers finally come before an interview officer.
The week in Dilley was a riveting example of real-world lawyering for student Tobar, who grew up in San Francisco. His mother is from Mexico and his father is from Ecuador. Tobar translated for several daily group orientation sessions with as many as 30 people, as well as translating for the many one-on-one interviews that Kawakami conducted each day with mothers seeking asylum.
“They are asylum-seekers, detained at the border, and going through the process inside the United States," said Tobar. "We saw everything from babies up to children who are almost adults. This is one of the huge issues we tried to address–the separation of families.”
Added Kawakami, “After 27 years as a deputy public defender, I thought I was used to interviewing witnesses or clients, because everyone has the most heartbreaking stories. But I wasn’t ready for these stories that you just don’t hear in Hawai‘i.”
See full story on the law school website.