Clinic News

UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law to Expand its Immigrant Legal Defense Services with $1 Million in New Appropriations

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

LAS VEGAS – The UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law announced today that the Clark County Commission approved a $500,000 allocation, which will be distributed over two years, to the UNLV Immigration Clinic. This additional funding will support the clinic’s work providing legal defense to people facing deportation, especially unaccompanied children and those in detention. The allocation matches a similar appropriation from the Nevada Legislature that was passed earlier this year. Together, these represent a $1 million-dollar investment in immigrant legal defense over the next two years.

With this additional funding, the UNLV Immigration Clinic will have the ability to add new positions to expand the clinic's deportation defense services. Additionally, it will allow the clinic to open a new, off-campus Community Advocacy Office that will enhance accessibility for clients and offer more space for its expanding staff. This additional office space will also allow NSHE’s University Legal Services to expand its services for UNLV and CSN. 

“The UNLV Immigration Clinic has become an invaluable resource to residents of Southern Nevada facing deportation proceedings,” said Sara Gordon, interim dean of the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law. “This additional funding will allow us to expand our delivery of free legal services in a location that is accessible to all members of our community, and will give student lawyers in the Clinic the opportunity to practice law closer to the people they are serving.”

Per federal law, deportation cases are known as removal proceedings. Those individuals in removal proceedings are allowed to have legal representation if they can afford it, but the government does not provide an attorney. This includes children and those in detention. Historically, only an estimated one in four people who are detained during their removal cases in the Las Vegas Immigration Court have been able to secure legal representation. 

“This is a big moment for immigrant legal defense in Nevada, and it will open more opportunities for our students over time as well,” said Michael Kagan, Immigration Clinic Director and Joyce Mack Professor of Law. “This is the result of many people and many organizations in the community working together. It's not a solution to every problem in our immigration system, but it is a big step forward. Our goal is to build something that people can turn to and that protects many of our neighbors here for many years into the future.” 

The UNLV Immigration Clinic is one of the clinics within the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law's Thomas & Mack Legal Clinic. It was established in 2003, with the core mission to train law students to practice immigration law while representing clients who otherwise would likely not have representation. However, the clinic has played a central role in expanding its legal services to match unmet immigrant needs in Nevada. 

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