Seeking Social Justice as a Fellow at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network

Alondra Vazquez is currently an incoming junior at Yale University, double majoring in Ethnicity Race, and Migration, and Studio Art. Alondra is working as a Fellow at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc.,(CLINIC), in Washington, as part of the FirstGEN Fellows program. 

Alondra is thankful to Students Rising Above for helping open doors to this opportunity! Learn more about what her daily projects look like, her passion for social justice, and her valuable advice to other students seeking internships.


What projects are you working on in your internship?

I’m assigned to three major projects. The first involves data entry for intake at the border at Tijuana. I help prepare cases based on the intake information and legal documents presented by asylum seekers in Tijuana, who are either requesting asylum at the border for the first time or have been put back in Mexico after being screened and are waiting; what is more commonly known as the Remain in Mexico policy or Migrant Protection Protocols. The information I help gather is then available to attorneys and asylum seekers through accessible devices like phones.

On the more clerical side, I’m creating an employee resource directory where I interview everyone that’s a part of CLINIC’s staff for a resource explaining each employee’s responsibilities and areas of expertise. 

My third project is a “Know Your Rights” piece for immigrants who have been in detention and have been recently released from shelters. I’m creating an informational flyer touching on what happens next; information on where to look for low-cost legal help in areas where they settle, what happens at ICE check-ins, what happens at court, and how they can check their court appointment status. A lot of this information is not known by new arrivals. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials are not held to any regulation to inform people of this basic information, so most opt to not say anything.

What is your favorite part of your internship?

I had been exposed to and emotionally invested in immigration from a young age since I had family affected by immigration restrictions, but had never been exposed to the legal aspect of it. What I appreciate the most about this internship is that I’ve been able to learn about that aspect and how to help through law advocacy. 

I also get to go to hearings on Capitol Hill. In this past week alone, I attended two subcommittee meetings regarding the treatment of children at the border and the child separation policy, both hearings in attendance with AOC, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, and Veronica Escobar (queen advocate for immigrants). Opportunities like these, plus all of the other events that happen on the Hill and in the area regarding social justice have expanded my knowledge on not only immigration, but other important topics. 

How does this internship align with your career goals? 

This internship has given me the opportunity to see an expanded array of careers available in the general field of immigration. Beforehand, I thought law school and government were the most effective career options, but participating in this internship has opened my eyes to many other opportunities that have as much of an impact on helping individuals with their migration trajectories and legal statuses. I want to go into the immigration field as an advocate for immigrants, so it was helpful to be exposed to so many people who decided to take this path and participate in the projects they have created to provide assistance.

What is it like being in DC for the summer? 

Internships in the DC area are beneficial if you’re particularly interested in social justice or careers related to government or politics; not only because of the networking and connection aspect, but being in the area offers additional opportunities to volunteer with other organizations and at events in similar fields. 

Do you have any advice for other students who are searching for internships or thinking of pursuing an internship?

Take full advantage of your internship whether that is getting involved with the community or exploring what the area has to offer. Also don’t be afraid to ask for help! 

Most importantly SRA exposed me to this opportunity to begin with, so without my SRA Advisor I would not have known this existed! Look out for the internship emails throughout the year and apply. Our advisors and the SRA Career Development team helped me revise my cover letter and resume to be apt enough to receive an interview opportunity and at that point I went through interview prep and was able to secure it! I literally got to do this because of SRA’s help and awareness to exposing and connecting their students to as many opportunities as possible and then helping them be prepared when embarking on those opportunities.