Isabel earned this award for her commitment to the ethical practice of law demonstrated throughout the year while working at UMass Law’s Immigration Law Clinic as well as through her own experience, documented in an essay in The East Hampton Star on July 7, 2011.
In the article she wrote of the harrowing circumstances that she had been forced to to undergo in order to find her way to life on Long Island with her parents from their native Colombia. In the essay in The East Hampton Star she wrote poignantly of the visceral connection between the experience of illegal physical immigration and her commitment to education and a life of freedom and opportunity.
“I also have a personal connection to the issue,” she wrote “My parents came to Long Island with the hope of finding better jobs and a strong education for their children since they were unable to provide that for us in our home country, Colombia. Because of the United States’ broken immigration system, the only pathway we had available was to overstay a tourist visa we had obtained back in our home country. As a result, we were undocumented immigrants here in Suffolk County for eight years, consigned to the shadows and vulnerable to everything from hatred to deportation"
After graduating from East Hampton High School Isabel went on to work with immigrants during her time as a student at UMass Law. During her work at the school’s immigration clinic, Isabel represented a mother and her adult daughter in separate deportation proceedings before the Immigration Court. Both were victims of domestic violence and had been residing in the United States since 1998. Neither had disclosed to the other that they were victims of abuse.
“We asked the judge to consolidate the cases because of their common factual background and similar basis for relief. However, I needed to be really careful between the delicate relationship between mother and adult daughter,” said Isabel. “I owed each of my clients a duty of confidentiality and although the cases were both consolidated I had to be careful not to disclose any private information.”
In April, the mother and daughter had final hearing in front of the judge and both were granted the relief requested and were able to stay in the United States as legal permanent residents. Isabel plans to take the New York bar examination and hopes to work for a non-profit organization that provides immigration legal services.
UMass Law, the only public law school in Massachusetts, was established in 2010 to provide a high quality, affordable legal education focused on creating justice-centered lawyers. UMass Law is especially committed to increasing the diversity of those who practice law in the Commonwealth and encouraging students to become professionally engaged in their community through clinics and internships while they study.