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As a Criminal Justice student at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, I participated in a three month fall internship at Whittingham Law. Whittingham Law is a private law firm in Upper West Side who was founded by Kaylin L. Whittingham. It is a Legal Ethics and Investment- Based Immigration firm. The firm helps people become citizens of the United States and prevents a person from being deported to another country. It also handles business immigration issues, political asylum, and the processes through which people can get work or student visas. The firm also focuses on ethical law. Lawyers occasionally need lawyers to defend them. The firm represents lawyers and  judges when they are accused of professional misconduct. Lawyers are supposed to follow the rules and principles found in the “Attorneys’ Code of Ethics”. To sum up, the goal of Whittingham Law is to reunite families, protect refugees, defend lawyers and help people in immigration matters. The first week I started interning there, I helped the lawyer, Kaylin, research the application process and requirements needed to apply for a F1 and O1A visa. The reason why she made me to research  it was because she wanted me to familiarize myself with these types of visas. When I was researching, I found interesting information that I did not know before. Apparently, there are different types of work and student visa. The most common visa used for students to enter the United States is the F1 visa. To apply for an F1 visa, the students must be a full time student enrolled in an academic educational program, must be taking English courses, must obtain a residence abroad and most importantly must have sufficient funds to support themselves (USCIS). Although I learned about students who applied for F1 visa to enter the United States, I didn’t get to personally work on a case. However, I did see the lawyer work on a O1A visa. According to the USCIS, O1A visa is for the people with extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics. The client, a Harvard Graduate, is currently on a F1 visa which expires in less than a year so in order for him to stay in the United States, he has to show he is extraordinary and deserves to be here more than anybody else. To do that, the lawyer showed that he is an exclusive member in an organization that requires exceptional capability to enter.  This organization he is part of consists of brilliant participants from Mongolia (where the client is originally from) who talk about issues and topics related to the development of Mongolia. Young Mongolian leaders held a two day conference in major international cities such as Washington DC, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, NYC, Milan, Istanbul and London. In spite of the fact that he is brilliant and works as a financial analyst for a huge company in New York City, it is not enough for the immigration to approve his application, so the attorney advised him on helding more conferences and publishing some of his work. Unfortunately, it is a long process so he won’t get a notice from the immigration until February, therefore I have to wait until then to find out if he got his O1A visa. Similarly, Kaylin and I worked on a naturalization case. Due to confidentiality I won’t disclose the real name or any private information about the clients. The client, Emanuel, moved to Boston in 2005 to attend Harvard School of Law. He only has a green card, but now that his green card is about to expire he came to the firm because submitting the citizenship application by himself it will take a long time for USCIS to process the application. When applying for the citizenship we must show he is a person of good moral character. A person cannot be found a person of good moral character if he or she has committed and been convicted of two or more offenses. Even though, he has not committed any crimes, he was though stopped by the U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP) when he returned to U.S. from one of his trips. He was stopped because he was carrying almost $20,000 into the States and he forgot to file a report declaring the exact amount. He was questioned and the client claimed he was under a lot of stress which is why he forgot to file the report. At the end, CBP let him go but they did not return all the money to him so he had to hire a lawyer to get all his money back. The other problem that came up when we were looking at his documents was the fact that he had 70 trips within the last 5 years. Some of the trips lasted 1-2 days while others 60-80 days which raises red flags. The immigration offices are going to want to know why he was away for so long. The lawyer gathered all the documents together and she is still waiting for a notice letter from them. At the same time, she got another immigration case. It was the case of a woman who is at risk of being deported, but under the Violence Against Women Act she may be eligible to become a lawful permanent resident because she is a victim of extreme cruelty committed by her husband who is a U.S citizen. The Violence Against Women Act is a United States Federal Law formulated in 1994 in response to the increasing violence against women in America. The act has provisions starting from funding of domestic violence programs to new civil rights remedies for women who were victims of gender based attacks (Palmer, p.1). She decided to self-petition under VAWA without the abusive husband’s knowledge. We filed a Petition for Special Immigrant (Form I-360), which is a form filed when an immigrant has been abused by a green card holder or US citizen.  When we filed the application we also submitted evidence showing that the client met the VAWA eligibility requirements.The evidence included a Declaration describing her relationship with her husband and the abuse she suffered. She described how she met the abuser, how the relationship developed and she also, discussed the emotional and financial abuse she suffered. Emotional abuse, different from physical is a speech and/or behavior that is controlling and manipulative. For example, the abusive husband isolated her from her friends and family. He made all the decisions, he said words that were meant to weaken her self-esteem, blamed, judged, criticized and name-called her. He also used the children to gain control and threatened to leave, take the children and call the immigration if she did not follow his orders. For years,  He did not allow her to work or have her own personal bank account. He even refused to give her money for food, rent and clothing. Thankfully, she kept a journal and recorded every incident, saved voicemails and submitted declarations from a family friend who had witnessed the financial and emotional abuse she suffered. Along with that, we submitted police clearance records to prove she is a person of “good moral character”, a copy of their marriage certificate to show her  relationship with the abuser and tax returns, phone bills that list both their names to show that they lived together. After submitting everything we received a notice from the immigration and she was finally able to earn her citizenship. One side of the firm handled immigration matter issues, while the other ethical issues. The ethical case, and the last case I was able to witness, was the case of a judge who cursed out in open court. The judge was banished from the court as a result of an official complaint from the District Attorney. The prosecutors claimed that public has lost confidence in the Judiciary System after that unpleasant event but the attorney is showing that the truth is public has lost confidence in Criminal Justice before that event. Minority people tend to have less confidence and trust in the courts.There are people receiving almost life long sentences for simple misdemeanors when rapist and murderers are being let off. Wrongful convictions is another example why public does not trust our judiciary system. The public sees scores of people released from death row and life terms in prison after years behind bars because of the hiding evidence by police or prosecutors. Also, victims are not informed enough about the status of their cases. The lawyer is currently working on this case. Being there for almost three months helped me realize my passion for law and helping others is bigger than I thought. Partaking in this unique opportunity helped prepare me for my future career goals and aid to my growth as an advocate for justice. While participating in this internship I was able to apply knowledge and resources learned to real world situations. I feel like this internship made me a stronger person and gave me greater passion for what I am trying to achieve. Seeing people who need our help in a way or another made me understand that a lot has to be done in order for the things to change.

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