After enjoying two full weeks of free time to explore D.C., I started my internship at CAIR Coalition (Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition) on September 9th. I am currently in the middle of my fourth week as a Social Services Intern with the Detained Children’s Program. I have learned so much in so little time and feel incredibly grateful for the opportunity to intern with this amazing non-profit. Something I didn’t realize before starting this internship is that CAIR is mainly a legal organization, meaning that a large portion of the staff is attorneys and legal assistants. This means that I have the privilege of being exposed to the world of immigration law, which I hadn’t anticipated. Immigration policies can be extremely difficult to navigate and fully understand, and it has been very meaningful and engaging for me to begin to try and understand these complexities.
In my position as a social services intern I assist individuals who were previously held in detention facilities with finding community resources to establish their lives in the U.S. upon release. In comparison, the larger, more legal-oriented side of CAIR works directly with individuals on their immigration cases, who are either in detention facilities or outside, awaiting a decision regarding their legal status in the country.
Last week was the first day I worked in-person with a client. Our client had recently been released from an ICE detention facility after winning their asylum case. My supervisor and I accompanied them to several appointments to help them get an ID, asylee benefits, and medications. I was able to learn a lot about navigating different social service networks and the importance of patience and advocacy when enrolling in community resources. Throughout this semester, I hope to improve my abilities in helping individuals and families navigate frequently confusing and frustrating resources and systems.
One thing I didn’t expect before starting my internship was suddenly feeling a lot more intensely and emotionally connected to immigration issues. While I had tried to keep up with immigration news and humanitarian concerns related to immigration before beginning this internship, I now realize how little I knew. Nearly each day at my internship, I read detailed stories of what many people have to live through to come to the U.S. and be able to apply for asylum or refugee status. Their stories are more intense than anything I’ve read before, and difficult to stomach emotionally. The fact that Trump has called for an end to what he refers to as ‘fake asylum’ shows how far from reality his administration is. I am glad to be working for an organization that fights for immigrant’s rights at a time when it is so desperately needed. I look forward to learning as much as I can about U.S. immigration policy from such a hands on experience this semester.
(While not directly related to my this post and my internship, below are a couple recent pictures of myself and friends on the U.S. Capitol grounds! It is truly a privilege to live just steps from the Capitol and National Mall).