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Intern Testimonials

“The ABA’s Commission on Immigration has been, for me, the only internship opportunity that has successfully struck the balance between providing full exposure to the gritty and hectic nature of its work, and maintaining the workload and intensity that an intern would appreciate. At the same time, I have been able to gain the unique experience of interfacing directly with detainees and helping them navigate their conditions, I have also had the invaluable opportunity to meet deeply caring and knowledgeable mentors who genuinely wanted to help their interns develop their professional careers. Our supervisors—Lucy, Eddie, and Alicia—weren’t just exceptional professionals, they were first and foremost people I could rely on and look up to. I cannot recommend this internship more to those seeking a career in immigration law.”   Sunny Jong, Undergraduate Senior at UCLA, Fall 2023

“During my internship with the ABA Commission on Immigration, I gained priceless insights into the intricacies of the legal field, particularly in relation to the complex and intense nature of immigration procedures in the United States. I had the responsibility of engaging with individuals in detention, attentively listening to their stories and fears through the hotline. I was responsible for providing them with accurate legal information to support their respective cases. Directly communicating with detained migrants in various detention centers across the United States offered me a firsthand understanding of the profound challenges detained migrants encounter within the current immigration system. This experience underscored the significance of upholding and preserving due process rights for individuals in detention. Collaborating closely with peers and supervisors, I was reminded of the crucial role that pro bono efforts play in raising awareness within these marginalized communities. In addition to my hotline responsibilities, I conducted comprehensive research on diverse topics such as U.S. immigration policies, international migrant conditions, and human rights organizations. I am profoundly grateful for this opportunity and the unwavering support and guidance by the entire ABA team.”   Hala Fakhoury, Undergraduate Senior at UCLA, Fall 2023

“My internship with the ABA Commission on Immigration has been one of the most memorable experiences of my undergraduate studies, thanks to all the wonderful staff members in the DC office. A big shoutout to Alicia, Eddie, and Lucy! Going into this internship, I thought I had a good understanding of the American immigration system, but I was sorely mistaken. When I began to take calls by myself, I was devastated to learn how some detained individuals did not have adequate access to healthcare, language interpretation services, legal representation, and more. As the weeks flew by, I became more knowledgeable about numerous immigration topics and what I can do to assist. I recall speaking to a caller who was the sole provider of his family and how he dearly missed his wife and children. The immigration judge had provided him with a release from detention on bond, but the caller did not have the financial means to pay it himself. With his consent, I was able to connect him to organizations that provided bond funds. Shortly after, Lucy informed me that someone paid for his bond and that he was no longer detained. I am happy to know that I helped at least one individual reunite with their family and know that my fellow interns and staff members at the ABA COI will continue helping detained individuals receive the legal orientation and relief they need. I believe this internship is a crucial experience for students who aspire to attend law school one day—bonus points if they intend to study immigration or criminal-immigration law, as this internship has shed light on the countless shortcomings of the American immigration system, ranging from ICE detention facility conditions to the immigration courts.”   Michelle Wang, 3rd Year Undergraduate Student at University of California - Riverside, Fall 2023

“When searching for internships, all I knew was that I wanted to do legal work. After going through a myriad of law offices that included coffee orders in duty statements (not joking), I came across the ABA’s Commission on Immigration and immediately knew this was somewhere I could see myself for ten weeks. I was overjoyed after being selected to join this amazing team. While taking calls from ICE detainees was difficult, the sheer amount I learned from this internship and the experience I gained made every hard call worth it. Being able to work with attorneys who were kind, understanding, and interested in helping people in every way possible has permanently formed my idea of what being a lawyer means.”   Carlie Zamorano-Caldwell, Undergraduate Senior at UCLA, Fall 2023

"Nothing could have prepared me to work for the American Bar Association's Commission on Immigration. It was an emotionally taxing job that gave me insight into the real-world cruelties that immigrants and refugees live every single day. Speaking to individuals on the phone every single day was both humbling and eye-opening to the injustices that current immigration policies have set in place. As a result of this internship, I now know exactly what I want to pursue in law school and beyond. My experience hit very close to home, as both my parents are refugees who were once detained. Had it not been for one pro-bono lawyer from Pakistan, I would not be where I am today. The most rewarding part of this experience was the bonds that I fostered with people who had nowhere else to look to for hope. Since I understand what it is like to be on the battered end of broken policies, I will pursue a path devoted to breaking down injustices in the way that I, a privileged America citizen, can. Both my manager and co-manager ensured that my time at the ABA was filled with compassion, dedication, and hard- work and because of them my heart is kinder to people whose stories I would have otherwise neglected to hear out. If I could ever have the privilege of working with the Commission on Immigration again, I will passionately take it on."   Suryah Aryaei, University of California - Berkeley, 2019

"My internship at the American Bar Association’s Commission on Immigration was one of the best internships I’ve had in college. My main responsibility was answering the detainee hotline, which, although nerve-racking at first, became very interesting and rewarding. I was able to interact with the detainees on a personal level and help them with various issues. The detainees were overall very thankful for our help and I really feel like I made a small difference in the lives of these people who are going through such a terrible time.  Mr. Bob, Nicole and everyone else in the office were so helpful in teaching us and acting as our mentors. I was so impressed with how empathetic they were to all the detainees' situations and how hard they worked to help each of them to the extent they could. They regularly made time to teach and guide us and I think the skills I learned from them will help me in any future position I have. This position taught me a lot about how the immigration system currently works in our country today and it was amazing to work for the Commission on Immigration during a time where immigration is such a hot topic issue.  I heard something in the news almost every day that related to my internship in some way and that made it even more enjoyable to work there."   Juliet Day, The George Washington University, 2019