AACC Legal Studies Club Welcomed Immigration Law Experts for Panel

Sarah Alonso, Photographer

Lawyers from a federal agency, a Maryland university, and a Baltimore-area charity explained visas, immigration and immigrant services at AACC on Oct. 24th.

Department of Justice Attorney Dan Smulow opened the panel discussion for AACC’s Legal Studies Club.

He reviewed the law enforcement agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and explained the process for getting visas for professional athletes and students, among others.

“Broadly speaking, a non-immigrant seeking entrance into the United States will apply for a visa at a [U.S.] conciliate or embassy in their home country,” Smulow said.

Staff attorney, Gabriela Quercia Kahrl of the The University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, focused her remarks on the legal aspects of immigration.

Kahrl specializes in the legal protection of immigrants and emphasized the rights immigrants have in this country.

“You do, in fact, have rights,” Kahrl said. “Even if you think of yourself as being here and you’re undocumented or you overstayed your visa … there are certain rights that you have.”

Esperanza Center Legal Services – Catholic Charities of Baltimore Managing Attorney Heather Benno, continued the conversation with her discussion on options for immigrants.

“We provide a wide variety of services.  We have a medical clinic, legal services and an English as a second language school. We have an anti-trafficking program and a family reunification program,” Benno said.

The Esperanza Center is a comprehensive immigrant resource center that offers hope and essential services to people who are new to the United States according to their website.

“I am here on a student visa,” first-year Canadian student Peter Chordash said. “[The panel] has helped me learn a bit more about the resources that are available to people such as myself.”

Legal Studies Club President Emily Dreszer said she wanted to see more students connected with this type of  expertise.  “It’s good that as a community college, we have these resources. Hopefully we can gather more people to be able to access them.”

The Legal Studies Club meets every Thursday at 2 p.m. in Careers 250.