Gonzaga Law School and Catholic Charities announce a new immigration clinic

Aiming to address the "significant unmet legal needs of immigrants and their families" in Spokane, Gonzaga Law School and Catholic Charities have joined together to launch an immigration clinic.

Called "the Catholic Charities Immigration Clinic at Gonzaga Law School," the clinic will provide immigration legal assistance to low-income individuals, including undocumented immigrants, while simultaneously training aspiring immigration lawyers.

"This partnership gives the law school community a unique opportunity to practice the Jesuit ideals of collaboration, educating agents of change, and serving the poor and marginalized in our community," says Jacob Rooksby, dean of Gonzaga Law School, in a statement. "The Clinic collaboration speaks directly to the Jesuit leadership's recent call to expand advocacy on behalf of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers."

Sarah Yerden, a spokeswoman for Catholic Charities, says the nonprofit has one immigration attorney who primarily deals with with reunification of families, humanitarian-based visas and naturalization. The partnership with Gonzaga represents an expansion of what Catholic Charities is able to do. The clinic will have second- and third-year law students staffing it, under the direction of a supervising attorney.

"It's a huge need," Yerden says. "This is just going to expand the reach we have."

The clinic has been running since September, but was announced on Oct. 14 in honor of Inidgenous Peoples' Day, according to a news release.

Rob McCann, president and CEO of Catholic Charities, says he's thrilled by joining Gonzaga to find "new ways to serve our immigrant neighbors."

"God calls on us to go to the margins to serve the vulnerable, and our partnership means we can bring more resources and providers to this underserved group," McCann says. ♦

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Wilson Criscione

Wilson Criscione, born and raised in Spokane, is an Inlander staff writer covering education and social services in the Inland Northwest.