This spring, TIRRC organized our first immigration law training in order to build the capacity to our member organizations to provide much needed legal services across the state. Together with the Immigrant Legal Resources Center (ILRC) and the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), we offered a comprehensive 40-hour course on the basics of immigration law. 

Over the course of six days in March, 15 participants received rigorous training from local, experienced immigration attorneys covering all components of immigration law -- from family petitions, to asylum, and deportations. Participants were assigned daily homework and readings, and the class format encouraged open discussion with small-group activities. There were also in-class practice exercises to give participants the full experience of interpreting and applying immigration law. After participating in the training and successfully completing the course examination, several participants will be seeking accreditation from the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). 

It is critical that Tennessee and the Southeast grow our legal services capacity to meet the needs of our quickly growing immigrant population and ensure that all families have access to justice and immigration relief. This is especially true as we await the historic decision from the Supreme Court on DACA+/DAPA. If the court rules in our favor, tens of thousands of Tennesseans will be eligible to apply for deportation relief and employment authorization this year. Expanding the number of BIA accredited representatives is a critical piece in ensuring that all communities, especially rural and underserved communities, have the resources they need to access relief. 

We are so grateful to the many instructors who were generous with their time and expertise. Thank you to Adrienne Kittos, Mary-Kathryn Harcombe, Dawn Gerhart, Chay Sengkhounmany, Allison Wannamaker, Yvette Sebelist, Angela Graves, and Spring Miller.