myIIT Portal

    An Advocate for Immigrant Communities

    Summer 2013

    David Chong

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    Anna Mendez Mencini
    Photo: Bonnie Robinson

    IIT Clinical Assistant Professor of Law Ana Mendez Mencini (LAW ’01) says her students learn early on how high the stakes can be for their clients.

    Such was the firsthand experience of one IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law student who worked with Mencini on an asylum case involving a human-rights activist from Africa. The activist had been the victim of a brutal sexual assault in her country because of her work on behalf of women and children there. When the client jeopardized her request for asylum in the United States after missing a filing deadline, Mencini and the student argued that the client’s post-traumatic stress syndrome prevented her from meeting the deadline.

    “Not only did we win on overcoming the one-year filing deadline,” Mencini says, “we also won asylum for the client, who is slated to become a U.S. resident later this year.”

    That case was just one of many that allows students to work alongside Mencini on real immigration cases at Chicago-Kent’s Immigration Clinic, which Mencini directs. Her clients may need help securing visas, going through the naturalization process, or dealing with more-urgent matters, such as asylum requests.

    As part of the Law Offices of Chicago-Kent, the Immigration Clinic operates on a fee-based system, which teaches students how to help clients while also running a successful business.

    Mencini says entrepreneurship can be a challenge for some immigration attorneys, who typically work with underserved immigrants with limited resources. She says, “You are sort of balancing your desire to help the immigrant community along with the fact that you have to put food on your own table as well.”

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