March 15, 2016
McGeorge 3L Navpreet Thandi has proved true the saying that you get out of the clinic what you put into it. Navpreet has been participating in the Clinic continuously since the spring of her second year. When she graduates this May, she will be greatly missed by her clients and the staff of the on campus clinics.
Navpreet's first client in the clinic was a young woman from Guatemala who was filing for an immigrant visa based on her marriage to a U.S. citizen spouse. The client would need to file a waiver based on her unlawful entry and would have to complete her application in Guatemala.
The clients came to the clinic after their first attorney had resigned from the bar with charges pending relating to failure to meet her obligations with clients. In this particular case, the clients had paid the attorney thousands of dollars, but no work had been done. The clients then went to a non-attorney "notario" to assist them in filing the application because they no longer had the financial means to pay for another attorney. That application was, unfortunately, denied.
The clients then reached out to Community Legal Services and Navpreet was assigned their case. Navpreet worked hard to gain the confidence of the clients by tirelessly working on the case and keeping the clients informed of the developments. Navpreet was able to refile the provisional waiver application which was approved in the summer. Navpreet is now preparing the applicants for their interview which should be this summer.
Navpreet continued her work in the clinic this past summer along with Jennifer Martin (3L), Kurt Bennett (3L), and Wesley Lunkley (2L). In the summer, Navpreet worked with several clients on a range of legal issues including U visas (survivors of crimes of violence who are willing to assist in the criminal investigation or prosecution), naturalization applications, DACA, applications for permanent resident status, a response to evidence in a VAWA case, and late re-registration for Temporary Protected Status.
This past fall, she continued in the clinic along with Jennifer Martin and Jose Orta as clinic team leaders. In the fall, she mentored several new clinic students and was instrumental in organizing the fall Immigration Fair while still continuing to represent clients.
This spring, while continuing as a co-team leader she represented one of her clients in removal proceedings in San Francisco. She was able to successfully represent her client in Immigration Court in an application for lawful permanent residence. The case was complicated due to the government's allegation that the client had previously committed marriage fraud in a past marriage. Navpreet researched the law, prepared her client for the hearing, and conducted the direct examination in court. Her hard work and thoughtful decision making paid off and the hearing went very smoothly. As the Judge told her, it is better to feel over-prepared.
"The Immigration Clinic has given me the opportunity to assist and learn from so many different people. Being able to give my clients good news about their case has been one of the most fulfilling and rewarding things that I have done in my life," Navpreet said. "You become invested in your cases, not so much for the win, but because the people. Their highs become your highs and their lows your lows. Their stories stay with you and push you to work harder. Working at the clinic this past year has been an amazing experience and I hope others are able to take advantage of this opportunity to learn and advocate for others."
Navpreet is interested in pursuing immigration as a career choice. She will leave McGeorge well prepared. Whether you have interest in immigration law or simply want experiences conducting consultations, researching the law, counseling clients, drafting declarations, preparing evidence for hearings, and helping the underserved immigrant community, contact Associate Professor and Supervising Attorney Blake Nordahl at firstname.lastname@example.org.