Successful advocacy makes families!

Successful advocacy makes families! On Friday March 11th, 3L Malcolm Ingram and Assistant Clinical Professor Sarah Katz successfully completed an adoption finalization for a client. Ms. M has been the primary caregiver for her godson, who has physical and intellectual disabilities, since he was an infant.  Her godson is now 12 years old, and now she is his legal parent!

Pictured areTLAO adoption Master Sante Reaves, Ms. M, Ms. M’s son, Malcolm Ingram 3L and Prof. Sarah Katz.

Immigrant families seek to join hearing on Berks Detention Center

A facility that was licensed (until recently) as a “child day treatment and residential facility” – but that actually operates as a jail, keeping families locked up and punishing them if they try to leave.  Children confined with adults other than their parents.   Inadequate medical care.   And an overall pattern, according to an Inquirer editorial, of “deplorable treatment.”

These are among conditions at the Berks County Residential Center, which houses immigrant families detained by the federal government.  Recently, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) revoked the facility’s license, but the county appealed and is continuing to operate the facility.

Now, the Sheller Center and its partners have filed a petition on behalf of some of the detained parents and children, asking to be heard when the appeal is considered.   “Our petition is an important symbol of the injustices faced by these detained families. It is essential that the voices and experiences of detained children and families be a part of the licensing appeal related to the Detention Center,” said Rhiannon DiClemente, a Temple 3L.

For more information, read the Petition to Intervene and recent news coverage.

UPDATE:   On April 5, the Administrative Law Judge overseeing the appeal denied our Petition to Intervene, on the ground that the families’ interest in the litigation “is adequately represented by the Department [of Human Services].”  We’re thinking about next steps.

Helping clients who have experienced trauma

Working with clients who have experienced trauma requires special skills and strategies — some of which are quite different from conventional approaches to interviewing and representation.  A crowd of faculty and students got a terrific introduction to the subject from psychologist Dr. Judith Eidelson, whose March 8th lecture was arranged by the student Family Law Society and cosponsored by the Temple Legal Aid Office, the Sheller Center for Social Justice, the Temple Advocacy Program, the Elder Law Clinic and family law professors Theresa Glennon and Rachel Rebouche.   You can view Dr. Eidelson’s PowerPoint presentation here.

Undocumented immigrants “are contributing plenty”

How much?  For 2013, the figure for Pennsylvania was $139 million in state and local taxes — plus an undetermined amount in federal taxes.  Prof. Jennifer Lee of the Sheller Center points out, in this article from, that the study recently released by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy shows that “there is another narrative out there about immigrants, apart from the prevailing one we hear a lot in this presidential election year.”