Graduating 3L Vanessa Reyes selected as 2022 IJC Justice Fellow

Vanessa Reyes ’22 has been selected by the Immigrant Justice Corps for a coveted slot in its 2022 class of Justice Fellows. Chosen for their passion, talent, and commitment to immigrants’ rights, fellows serve two years as staff attorneys at immigrant legal services providers and community-based organizations across the country, providing legal assistance to low-income immigrants.  

Reyes will work out of the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition in Washington, D.C. The non-profit’s mission is to ensure equal justice for immigrant adults and children at risk of detention and deportation through direct legal representation, know your rights presentations, impact litigation, and advocacy. Her responsibilities will include representing detained immigrants in removal proceedings. 

“IJC was the only fellowship program that focused on providing quality legal representation for immigrants facing detention and removal,” said Reyes. “I am excited to use my skills and perspective, as the bilingual daughter of immigrant parents, to fight for the well-deserved rights of my community.” 

Graduating this May, Reyes built practical skills and experience in the law school’s Chacón Center for Immigrant Justice, where she was a student attorney in the center’s Immigration Clinic. Under the supervision of professors Maureen Sweeney and Gabriela Kahrl, Reyes represented clinic clients in asylum cases, including successfully representing a man from West Africa with a political asylum claim.  

“The clinic taught me how to manage different immigration cases and how to work and build relationships with different clients,” said Reyes. “These are all the skills I will have to demonstrate as I start my legal career at CAIR Co.” 

As well as experience, Reyes received valuable mentoring in the clinic, particularly, she said, from Sweeney. 

“...From the start, she provided me with guidance during my fellowship research... She was always cheering me on and giving me positive feedback,” reflected the 3L. 

Also during law school, Reyes interned with Ayuda and Kids in Need of Defense where she worked on a range of immigration cases including asylum, T visas, and Special Immigration Juvenile Status. Additionally, she was an associate editor of the Maryland Law Review.   

This year’s class of Immigrant Justice Corps fellows is the largest in the program’s nine-year history. Thirty-one law school graduates will be placed in 26 host organizations across 11 states. 

“This two-year postgraduate fellowship is competitive, drawing applicants from across the country,” said Teresa Schmiedeler, director of public service programs and outreach at Maryland Carey Law. “It’s an excellent achievement for Vanessa.”  

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