Immigration law is a mystery. Unless you’re an immigrant seeking relief under the law, or you’re an immigration law attorney, it’s an unknown. Then, earlier this year, Karla McKanders, a professor of immigration law at Vanderbilt Law School sent us an email. Her law students were producing their final reports on immigration and refugee law as audio stories, and would Life of the Law be interested in listening to, and possibly publishing their work as part of our New Voices series? Absolutely. Tony Gannon, our senior producer and I met with the class for a conference call workshop but they were well on their way to building their stories.

Today, Life of the Law presents three of the stories produced by the students in Professor McKanders’ immigration law class at Vanderbilt University Law School. A note – they were not asked to approach the project as journalists, but as law students so some of their stories include their perspectives on immigration and refugee law.

Many refugees leave their home country because of a well-founded fear they will be persecuted if they remain. As Joshua Minchin reports, how “well-founded fear” is defined and interpreted can make a profound difference for individuals seeking refuge in the United States. Our first story is Well Founded Fear by Joshua Minchin.

If a refugee appears in a US Immigration court with a claim of well founded fear, will they receive a fair neutral hearing by the court, or do judges bring their own bias to the bench in asylum hearings? Our second story is Wrong Judge at the Wrong Time by Simina Grecu.

Our final story is from Rachael Pikulski. The US places an important role in helping refugees throughout the world by providing funding to the United Nations. But this year, the Trump Administration cut funding to the UN agency that provides services to refugees. Rachael Pikulski took a look at the impact of these cuts on one group of refugees, Palestinians.



Law Students Take on Immigration

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Production Credits:

This episode of Life of the Law was produced by Joshua Minchin, Simina Grecu and Rachael Pikulski, students in Professor Karla McKanders’ Immigration Law Class at Vanderbilt Law School. It was edited by Life of the Law’s Senior Producer, Tony Gannon and Associate Producer, Andrea Hendrickson, who also composed the music. Additional music by Alex Blank. Our Social Media Editor is Rachael Cain.

We are a non-profit project of the Tides Center and we’re part of the Panoply Network of Podcasts from Slate. You can also find Life of the Law on PRX, Public Radio Exchange.

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