In fieldwork practicum courses, students participate in weekly seminars and conduct related fieldwork at outside organizations. This fieldwork practicum course will focus on government protection for women fleeing gender-based persecution and abuse. Students will participate in a two hour/week seminar and carry out 10 hours/week of fieldwork for private law firms and nonprofit agencies located in the D.C. metro area that are representing women fleeing their countries because of gender-related violence.
SEMINAR: In the two-credit, graded, seminar portion of the practicum, students will discuss how shifting migration patterns and societal forces have caused more women to leave their home countries and attempt to enter the United States. While a woman may flee her home country for the same reasons as a man, research shows that refugee women also flee their countries for gender-related reasons. In many countries, women face persecution and violence just for being women. This includes the use of rape as a weapon of war, domestic violence, so-called honor crimes, forced marriage, widow rituals, one child policies, forced sterilization policies, and female genital mutilation. In seminar, students will study and learn through experience about the societal forces causing the forced migration of women and how U.S. laws and policies address the immigration status of these female immigrants. We will focus on forms of relief that, while available to both men and women, are almost exclusively accessed by women to obtain legal status in the United States. Specifically, we will focus on: Asylum (specifically the gender-based prong of “membership in a particular social group”), the Violence against Women Act (for abused women who are or were married to U.S. citizens), U Visas (for victims of crime), and T Visas (for victims of trafficking).
FIELDWORK: In the two-credit, mandatory pass/fail, fieldwork portion of the practicum, students will work with lawyers from private law firms and nonprofit agencies on actual cases of women fleeing their countries because of gender-based violence. Students will be assigned in teams to interview clients, prepare research and briefs, and assist the principal lawyer conducting the case. Students will also work directly with attorneys at local legal services agencies who are representing female survivors of gender-based harm seeking legal status in the United States.