LAS VEGAS – The UNLV Immigration Clinic, a part of the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law's Thomas & Mack Legal Clinic, opened the doors today to its new off-campus Community Advocacy Office. Governor Steve Sisolak, Assemblywoman Selena Torres and Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom, immigrant community leaders and clients of the clinic joined Boyd’s Dean Sara Gordon and Immigration Clinic Director Michael Kagan at the opening event in Downtown Las Vegas.
Located at 1212 S. Casino Center Blvd, the Community Advocacy Office is not only more accessible to all members of the Las Vegas community but provides additional space for the clinic’s growing services. Expanded services include free legal defense for adults in immigration detention and unaccompanied children fighting deportation. The clinic also offers immigration legal services to UNLV and College of Southern Nevada students and staff. The new Community Advocacy Office will also offer new opportunities for law students interested in building a career in immigration law to learn through real world practice.
“We are thrilled to officially open the UNLV Immigration Clinic’s new Community Advocacy Office,” said Sara Gordon, interim dean of the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law. “In addition to serving the residents of our community, the Community Advocacy Office will also provide new opportunities for Boyd students to study and learn as they assist clients facing deportation.”
The Community Advocacy Office is made possible by a $500,000 appropriation from the Nevada Legislature and a matching allocation from the Clark County Commission. both of which were approved last year. Together, these represent a $1 million-dollar investment in immigrant legal defense over the next two years.
“This is an exciting step forward for immigrant legal defense in Nevada, to be sure, and it is the product of many people’s work over many years,” said Director of the UNLV Immigration Clinic Michael Kagan. “Fundamentally, we are part of this community. Our students come from this community, and this is about serving the community.”
Per federal law, deportation cases are known as removal proceedings. Individuals in these removal proceedings are not provided an attorney by the government, and therefore only have legal representation if they can afford it. This includes children and those in detention. Historically, only around one in four people who are detained during their removal cases in the Las Vegas Immigration Court have been able to secure legal representation. The UNLV Immigration Clinic has offered free legal representation to unaccompanied children since 2014, and since 2019 has employed the only lawyer in Nevada to work full time providing free representation to people detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.