USC immigration clinic receives $1.5 million

The USC Gould School of Law is developing its first clinical law professorship through a $1.5 million donation from Audrey Irmas, a philanthropist well known throughout California.

The donation will allow the USC Gould Immigration Clinic to expand its client base and broaden student participation in advocating on behalf of immigration clients.

The clinic aids those in foreign countries who are in need of asylum in the United States. Students represent clients pro bono, or free of charge, within immigration court hearings, and also have the opportunity to participate in research projects surrounding issues of immigration.

“I am thrilled to support the work of USC Gould’s Immigration Clinic,” Irmas told USC News. “The clinic has helped many women and children successfully gain freedom and asylum after enduring unimaginable harms, while training some of USC Gould’s best and brightest future lawyers.”

Niels Frenzen, who founded the Immigration Clinic in 2000, will be honored as the first Sydney M. and Audrey M. Irmas Endowed Clinical Professor. Since its opening, the clinic has had nearly 200 USC students represent more than 1,000 clients, and has a 95 percent success rate of winning cases.

“The Immigration Clinic is aligned with Audrey Irmas’ mission of helping vulnerable populations,” Frenzen told USC News. “Her passion is truly inspirational.”

The clinic is currently working on around 200 open cases, representing clients from 25 different countries. More than half of the clinic’s total clients are women — including transgender women — and around one-third are children.

The clinic has recently helped a pair of albino sisters from Tanzania who were suffering persecution due to their skin. The sisters gained asylum with the aid of students from the clinic, and are now living in Ojai where they attend high school.

1 reply
  1. Benjamin Roberts
    Benjamin Roberts says:

    Let’s be clear on several points:

    There are plenty of “vulnerable populations” among our own citizenry here in the United States.

    Local crime abroad does not constitute “asylum” or “refugee” status. Local crime, however awful, should not be confused with regional war or unrest.

    Illegal immigration is not a victimless crime, and should not be conflated with international study or asylum, etc.

    Concepts like citizenship, immigration, visas, permanent residency etc are important concepts and defined terms in law, that should not be cheapened or rendered moot by politically motivated groups.

    The work of an immigration attorney should be to help people navigate our immigration law in their pursuit of citizenship or permanent residency. Immigration attorneys should not be helping people avoid or subvert the law.

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