August 21, 2013

In Cardozo Life, we profiled four Cardozo alumni who participated in the school's Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic-and then went on to work in the immigration legal field. Here are samplings of their interviews.


Lynly S. Egyes ’09

Attorney, Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center

What do you do as an attorney at the Sex Workers Project?

I provide direct services to sex workers and victims of trafficking, and represent clients in a variety of visa applications and in immigration court proceedings. In addition, I provide regular “know your rights” training to the transgender immigrant community in Queens, and through this work and our connection with the LGBT community, we have established the first LGBT anti-trafficking program in the United States. Through our client-centered, non-judgmental approach, I often identify trafficking in situations that have been missed by other people.

How did the Immigration Justice Clinic prepare you for your current job?

We had a client who would be taken directly from jail to immigration detention. Peter Markowitz told me that I needed to get the immigration detainer lifted. I spent months contacting everyone I could think of for help, from law enforcement officials to attorneys to detention and removal officers, and I finally received a letter from our client saying that she would be released. I apply this attitude of doing everything I can, and then a little bit more, for my client every day in my job. I have been told by defense attorneys, judges and prosecutors that what I am asking for is not possible. But I think back to Peter telling me to keep going until the problem is fixed. And that is what I do.


Nyasa Hickey ’11

Attorney, Brooklyn Defender Services

What do you do at Brooklyn Defender Services?

I aid in the representation of non-citizen criminal defense clients, aiming to avoid or minimize the negative immigration consequences of arrest and potential conviction. I also help clients secure citizenship, green card status and other immigration benefits. Finally, I process applications for individuals seeking legal assistance for such benefits, and I supervise volunteer attorneys.

What did you achieve in the Immigration Justice Clinic? 

I represented an individual who was taken advantage of by unscrupulous immigration attorneys, causing what should have been a simple adjustment application to remain an unresolved case for almost 20 years. By utilizing creative legal arguments and gathering affidavits from his family and community, I helped my client avoid deportation and obtain his green card in Immigration Court. I also engaged in large-scale advocacy focused on disentangling the immigration and criminal justice system by drafting legislation, crafting legal arguments and developing advocacy.


Clement Lee ’11

Detention Staff Attorney, Immigration Equality

What is most rewarding about your job?

Many detention facilities attempt to mitigate transgender detainees’ risk of victimization by placing them in solitary confinement. Transgender immigrants can be subject to torturous isolation, surveillance and humiliation for up to 23 hours a day. Many are tempted to “give up” and accept deportation to a country where they fear violence and persecution. I’m happy when Immigration Equality is able to secure their release from the nightmarish forms of solitary confinement.

How did the Immigration Justice Clinic prepare you for your current job?

The IJC was, hands-down, the most meaningful experience I had in law school. By exposing me to the complex interactions between criminal and immigration law, it played a tremendous role in preparing me for my current position. Professor Markowitz helped me to learn to navigate the complexities of "crimmigration" laws in a way that I still find useful every day. I still contact him for his feedback on cases that present particularly challenging issues.


Brooke Menschel ’11

Litigator, New York Civil Liberties Union

What is most rewarding about your job?

Over the past two years, I have had the chance to work with a diverse group of people on issues that not only affect their lives, but also present fascinating and complex legal issues. On a daily basis, I have the opportunity to work with NYC public school students who typically have never met a lawyer and who fear authority as a result of negative interactions in school and in their neighborhoods. Having the chance to advocate for these students and provide them with a voice to assert their constitutional rights has been incredibly rewarding.

What did you achieve in the Immigration Justice Clinic?

As a member of the clinic, I had the opportunity to work on three different, rewarding, and very challenging projects. Along with another student, I was able to use my newly developed legal skills to clear our client from deportation and secure his future in the United States, with his family in the only home he had ever known. Working with lawyers other public interest lawyers, I contributed to the drafting of a federal lawsuit that, years later, made headlines when the Judge supported the clinic’s position. Finally, as part of a year-long effort to reverse a decision made during the previous administration, I presented the effects of the policy to top-level DOJ and Administration officials