by Kaytlin Lake
My experience at the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic this semester has been so incredibly influential to my vocational trajectory. As a non-profit, pro bono legal service, the clinic works with clients who just want to be heard, validated, and stood up for in a world where the odds seem to always be stacked against them. Specifically in the immigration department, I have had the privilege of meeting some of the real people affected by hot-topic government policies. A mother fleeing domestic violence in Mexico was being tracked like an animal by a bulky ankle cuff. A father feared deportation while his young son was receiving medical treatment for his recently discovered Leukemia. A working professional sought asylum from Venezuela where a popular gang had been terrorizing their entire family because of alleged government ties. I witnessed flaws in our esteemed legal system, but I also witnessed the selfless love and commitment to justice that the volunteers and staff of the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic and its partners exhibit each and every day. My heart was broken, the perfect image in my head of this great country was shattered, but most importantly a fire was lit inside of me to relentlessly fight for the defenseless, to be a model of compassion and empathy, and to always remember that actual human beings on the ground are affected by each government policy put in place, each law passed, each court trial decided. These lives affected are not statistics, not theoretic ethical dilemmas or case studies. These are brothers, daughters, fathers, grandmothers — real people — and they need my help.