KU law school providing free legal assistance for DACA renewal

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Update, Sept. 18: Originally, the DACA renewal walk-in clinic was intended only for Douglas County residents, but an outpouring of volunteer support now makes it possible for the clinic to serve anyone, regardless of residence.

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas School of Law will provide free legal assistance to individuals eligible to renew their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) authorization before the Oct. 5 deadline set by the White House.

Through the DACA Renewal Clinic, KU Law students and faculty will help eligible Douglas County residents complete and submit renewal applications so they may continue to live and work in the United States without fear of deportation. In addition, KU students may seek assistance through a separate service by Legal Services for Students (see information below).

“These applications must be finished and mailed in time to be received by the government by October 5,” said Melanie DeRousse, associate clinical professor of law and director of Douglas County Legal Aid. “Any applications that are received after that date will result in a denial of renewal, and the work authorization and protection from deportation will expire on the date listed on the person’s work authorization card. The timeline is very short, and the consequences of not getting paperwork done in time are extremely harsh in this scenario.”

The walk-in clinic will operate out of the Douglas County Legal Aid Society office in 105 Green Hall, 1535 W. 15th St.

  • Tuesday, Sept. 19 | 3:30-6:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, Sept. 21 | 3:30-6:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Sept. 24 | Noon-6 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 26 | 3:30-6:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, Sept. 28 | 3:30-6:30 p.m.

No appointment is necessary, but please call 785-864-5564 in advance with questions or if an interpreter or other accommodations are needed. Please park in the Allen Fieldhouse garage, located on Irving Hill Road just west of Naismith Drive. Bring parking garage tickets to the clinic for validation.

Clients eligible to attend the clinic to apply for a two-year renewal of DACA must:

  • Have DACA status and a work permit that expires on or before March 5, 2018, and
  • Not currently be involved in immigration proceedings.
  • Be prepared to pay the $495 government filing fee upon submission of the renewal application. (KU Law services are free, but the application requires a fee.)

If the above does not apply, please refer to this advisory from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (English | Spanish) and contact an immigration attorney to determine your next steps.

What to bring
Please bring with you:

  • Your work authorization card,
  • Your Social Security card,
  • Your state-issued ID, if you have one,
  • A copy of your first DACA application and approval notice,
  • Two passport photos, and
  • If you have been arrested, charged with a crime or received a ticket, any paperwork related to that offense.

DACA allowed people who were brought to the U.S. as children to obtain the ability to work, attend school and remain free from deportation for two-year periods as long as they met strict eligibility criteria. Those criteria included being enrolled in or having graduated from high school or participating in military service, and being free of any criminal convictions for felonies or serious misdemeanors. Nearly 6,000 Kansans obtained lawful work authorization and protection from deportation through the DACA program by meeting those strict requirements; many will now require immediate legal assistance to determine their eligibility for renewal and to process renewal paperwork before the deadline.

While the KU Law DACA Renewal Clinic is prepared to serve the broader community, Legal Services for Students is available specifically for KU students. KU students who wish to speak with a lawyer about issues related to the DACA program and its pending rescission should contact Legal Services for Students at 785-864-5665. The office is located in 212 Green Hall and open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. All personal information will remain completely confidential.

Symposium to explore legal elements of human migration

Thursday, October 16, 2014

LAWRENCE – Leading scholars in international, immigration and human rights law will explore the legal complexities surrounding human migration at the 2014 Kansas Law Review Symposium.

“Statelessness and Belonging: Perspectives on Human Migration” will run from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 24, at the University of Kansas School of Law. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Register and preview the complete schedule at law.ku.edu/stateless.

Speakers from across the country will discuss topics such as: refugee and asylum adjudication; ethics and values in the U.S. immigration system; citizenship and global public health crises, including Ebola; children awaiting adjudication at the U.S. border; human rights and allocation of vital resources to indigenous peoples; home state’s sovereignty over undocumented immigrants abroad; and individuals, corporations and the properties of citizenship. 

“There are an estimated 4,000 ‘citizens of nowhere’ in the United States today. A much higher number of people possess a formal nationality but live a similar experience to that of stateless persons: discrimination, loss of legal rights and lack of access to basic resources. Their marginalization touches many of the human rights crises of our time, domestically and internationally,” said Tamara Combs, symposium editor and third-year KU law student. “This is a broad and timely issue to explore as the nation continues to talk about possible reforms to the current immigration system.”

Speakers will include:

  • Lillian Aponte-Miranda, human rights lawyer and former associate professor, Florida International University College of Law
  • Maryellen Fullerton, professor of law, Brooklyn Law School
  • Bill O. Hing, professor and Dean's Circle Scholar, University of San Francisco School of Law
  • Polly Price, professor of law, Emory University School of Law
  • Jaya Ramji-Nogales, professor of law and co-director, Institute for International Law and Public Policy, Temple University Beasley School of Law
  • Marcia Yablon-Zug, associate professor of law, University of South Carolina School of Law
  • Lua Yuille, associate professor of law, University of Kansas School of Law

Scholarship associated with the symposium will be published in a spring 2015 issue of the Kansas Law Review. Questions? Contact Symposium Editor Tamara Combs at kulawrevsymposium@gmail.com.

Professor: Health care fight reflects role of federalism in disputes

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

LAWRENCE — When the United States was in its infancy and the Articles of Confederation — a precursor to the Constitution — were drafted, the founding fathers likely had no idea how that might contribute to the polarized nation we live in today. Richard E. Levy, J.B. Smith Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Kansas, has authored an article exploring four of America’s most divisive issues and how they all become arguments of federalism, or federal government authority versus states’ rights.

In the paper Levy explores the Affordable Care Act, immigration, same-sex marriage and gun rights. He explores the political ins and outs of each issue and how they essentially boil down to questions of who decides the issue — the federal or state government. He will present the research at a conference at Kanagawa University in Yokohama, Japan, in November.

The article builds on a presentation he gave in Japan in 2009 as part of KU and Kanagawa University’s ongoing partnership. The original conference happened shortly after the financial crisis, and its focus was the centralization and de-centralization of government authority in economically developed nations. This paper is for a followup conference that explores the effects of the financial crises on centralization and de-centralization.

“I began thinking about what the effect of federalism is in the United States and how it related to the financial crisis,” Levy said. “As I studied that and many other divisive topics, I realized they were all not only hot button issues, but federalism issues.”

He decided to explore the link between federalism and ideologically divisive issues. While we live in a polarized nation today, the phenomenon is not new. Perhaps the country’s most famous example is the Civil War. The most remembered cause of the war was slavery, but states’ rights and economic issues factored in as well, and even 150 years later, people are willing to argue about the true cause.

“When I realized that the interaction between federalism and polarization was critical for other historical issues such as slavery and the Civil War I thought this might be a topic that transcends issues and eras,” Levy said.

Throughout the paper Levy explores how four divisive issues of today are argued in terms of federalism. In the case of the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” as it is referred to by those who oppose it, the individual mandate and other provisions are controversial as a matter of policy, but the main arguments focus on overreaching by the federal government. The law was challenged in court primarily on two federalist grounds: Opponents claimed the individual mandate was beyond the scope of the enumerated federal powers and that Medicaid expansion interfered with state sovereignty by forcing them to expand the coverage. In the case of immigration, Levy writes, it is widely accepted that the issue is a federal concern, but inaction at that level has prompted some states to take action to discourage immigration. The question also became one of federalism: whether state and local laws are pre-empted by federal requirements.

Same-sex marriage presents a dispute on grounds of traditional morals that also presents a number of federalism issues, Levy writes. The Supreme Court originally rebuffed the efforts to challenge anti-gay laws, so gay-rights advocates turned to the state level. While they achieved success in some states, in others the responses were prohibiting same-sex marriages and the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Over time, the Supreme Court became more receptive to gay-rights claims, including the recent decision striking down of key components of the Defense of Marriage Act. Nonetheless, the issue of same-sex marriage has not been resolved and has resulted in a patchwork of varying laws by state regarding its legality.

Gun rights are among the most divisive current issues and highlight a key tactic in states opposing federal law. Gun-rights supporters argue the Second Amendment guarantees individuals’ rights to own and carry firearms, prompting many states to oppose any gun control legislation, often before it happens. Several states, including Kansas, have gone so far as to pass legislation stating guns produced and owned within their borders are not subject to federal regulations and make it a crime for federal agents to enforce laws related to them.

Nullification laws, or those that aim to negate federal laws at the state level, have been used in a number of cases, most notably in disputes about gun control and marijuana criminalization.

“I often tell my students that both the left and the right are equal opportunity hypocrites when it comes to federalism,” Levy said. “They are for it when it supports their case and against it when it doesn’t. With nullification laws, when you have ideological polarization, I think you see people more willing to make a statement about the law without intending they will have any real effect.”

Levy notes that federalism has largely magnified the current red-state, blue-state divide in the country by encouraging states to enact more radical policies on each side, depending on the ideological leanings of the geographical area. The tendency to use federalism as an argument to support a cause is both inherent in the system and to a lesser extent human nature, Levy said, but he doesn’t feel it is an unsolvable problem. History shows that polarization is not constant and that moderates have had success at the federal level. Conversely, sometimes one side is so powerful they essentially have no opposition and thus practically no polarization.

The study shows that under present circumstances federalism and ideological polarization are mutually reinforcing, enhancing rather than dampening each other’s effects. The current structure of federalism has also produced a divided federal government, which prevents action on controversial topics, and when the resulting polarization aligns with geographical divides, states are often more prone to enact radical policies, Levy argues. When federalism and ideological divides are not aligned, however, the two may tend to moderate each other. However, just as polarization is not historically persistent, it is not hopeless to expect solutions to divisive issues.

“I tend to think a better understanding of problems promotes better solutions,” Levy said. “I would hope this research would help people understand how the issues become jumbled and how they might be addressed.”

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