BOSTON– Law schools across the city are noting an uptick in students choosing to go into immigration law in the past three years. As someone who worked in immigration law during the Obama era, I want to go on record saying I did it before it was cool ;)... ANYWAY, let's take a look at how we got to this point and what professors and students are saying.
Trump's presidential campaign targeted immigrants heavily. But sometimes campaign talk is just that - talk. But we all knew that Trump wasn't messing around with immigration when he issued the travel ban in January of 2017. Barely one week after his inauguration, Trump put into place a ban which straight up banned immigration from seven countries, something that had never happened in modern American history. (Though it has happened in American history.) I remember friends on that evening rushing to Logan to start protesting. The ban was eventually blocked by courts and a watered-down version was put in place, but the precedent was set.
Since then, immigration has been a consistent source of conflict and concern in the news, most notably during the implementation of a family separation policy at the border in April 2018. And while that policy is officially no longer in place thanks to widespread public outcry, the conditions for immigrants crossing the southern border are still harsh. Camps to house migrants in legal limbo are far beyond capacity, outbreaks of disease are common, and the DHS has found that 4 ICE detention centers constitute unsanitary living conditions. Yesterday freshman Democratic representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez drew both support and backlash for calling migrant detention centers "concentration camps", and experts and academics (including the official twitter of the Auschwitz Memorial) say that her assessment is mostly accurate.
Anyone in law school during this tumultuous time might recognize a clear and present need for more lawyers in this sector, and that's exactly what is happening in Boston.
Over at Northeastern, Hemanth Gundavaram started the immigration justice clinic, which is a program where law students can engage in conversations and real immigration cases to get a better understanding of the field.
"We've had people who have been undocumented themselves, students who had family members who are undocumented, many students who are immigrants themselves," he explained. "So I think it's a very personal thing for a lot of students."
As I wrote earlier, many students attending law school during this time have taken an interest in the current political landscape.
"I started law school just before the  election, and that definitely kind of pushed me into immigration law after everything started happening," said Jessica Johnson, who recently graduated from Northeastern.
At Boston University a similar story is unfolding. “In 2018, over 1,400 BU law applicants expressed a really strong interest in immigration law, which represented almost a quarter of the BU law school applicants.”
According to WBUR, that's up from one-fifth in 2013.
It seems Trump has begun to inspire Boston, just not the way he would have liked to.