An international scope: Reflections on my experience at CLINIC

America Fuentes

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to support the legal staff in the Religious Immigration Services, or RIS, department. This experience helped me learn about topics and procedures of great relevance that will be useful to my career as an attorney.

I obtained my law degree with honors from the Universidad Autonoma de Aguascalientes in my native Mexico in 2016, in addition to receiving an academic excellence award. I also completed a successful six-month academic exchange at the Universidad Miguel Hernandez de Elche, in Spain, and worked with international students in legal research. My work in different areas of law has always been driven by a dedication to service.

During my tenure at CLINIC, I was able to support RIS professionals with administrative tasks connected with helping religious worker clients apply for immigration benefits. I was proud that my career experience and flexibility were helpful in multiple areas. In particular, I assisted with preparing cases and was instrumental in helping close cases at the end of 2018, a comprehensive end-of-year project. In addition, I helped attorneys and paralegals navigate information in Spanish, which offered insights into some culturally-specific practices that build strong connections with the international religious workers CLINIC serves.

I will always value the opportunity to contribute to a noble mission, rooted in faith and service. It was inspiring to witness the dedication and zest of RIS staff as they helped meet the legal immigration needs of Catholic Archdioceses, religious institutes and the foreign religious workers.

As a devout Catholic, I was proud to learn more and apply my knowledge of different religious orders within Catholicism. Also, this network has been fascinating to me, since I am from a country in which migration is a very sensitive topic and a daily issue due to the large number of Mexicans migrating to the United States. As I look to serve vulnerable immigrant communities from Central and South America that come into Mexico and the United States, I see how the experience at CLINIC has shaped my professional journey.

I have always sought to expand my legal knowledge regardless of borders since I consider law an essential aspect of a functioning global landscape — one that is necessary to maintain strong relationships between countries and organizations. I am thankful to the outstanding professionals at CLINIC, and RIS, in particular, for sharing their wisdom and welcoming mine.

* Ileana Cortes Santiago contributed to this article.