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Refugee and Immigrant Rights Litigation Clinic

The Refugee and Immigrant Rights Litigation Clinic is a full-year litigation clinic offered in partnership with the Immigration Legal Services Department of Catholic Charities in New York City. Under the supervision of senior attorneys, students represent immigrants – mostly refugees and asylees –in proceedings at the administrative level and in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second and Third Circuits. Students also represent children in Department of Homeland Security custody who were victims of abuse or neglect in their home countries. These cases typically arise under the Violence Against Women Act and the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act.

Providing representation from initial client contact through final resolution of the case, students in the Clinic:

  • Interview clients
  • Assist in Know-Your-Rights presentations at the Children’s Village custody facility
  • Conduct full-scale fact investigations
  • Perform legal research
  • Develop a case theory that integrates the relevant facts and law
  • Attend administrative hearings and court proceedings

Whether invited to give their opinion about matters, to propose solutions, or to handle meetings and conversations with experts or opponents, the students quickly become aware that their work directly affects lives and respond with creativity and zeal. While most Clinic students have limited prior experience and knowledge in the field, their best performance is inevitably drawn out as they experience the Clinic as a collaborative process.

For almost 60 years, Catholic Charities has helped thousands of individuals and families in New York City live humane and flourishing lives. It fulfills its mission of serving the basic needs of the poor, troubled, weak and oppressed through activities in five areas:

  • Protecting and nurturing children and youth
  • Strengthening families and resolving crises
  • Supporting the physically and emotionally challenged
  • Feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless
  • Welcoming and integrating immigrants and refugees

The Immigrant Legal Services Department of Catholic Charities serves indigent and low-income immigrants and refugees throughout metropolitan New York and at fourteen satellite sites in its ten-county jurisdiction.


C. Mario Russell, Esq.
Catholic Charities
80 Maiden Lane/13th Fl.
New York, N.Y. 10038
[email protected]

Mark R. von Sternberg, Esq.
Catholic Charities
80 Maiden Lane/13th Fl.
New York, N.Y. 10038
[email protected]