Third-year law student Michelle Gonzalez has been awarded a postgraduate fellowship with Immigrant Justice Corps (IJC). She is one of just 26 law students from across the country to be chosen by IJC as a Justice Fellow in 2020.
“This remarkably gifted incoming class of Immigrant Justice Corps Fellows will make all the difference for the thousands of immigrants they will represent and their families, providing the highest quality of legal counsel, so necessary if justice for all is to be realized,” said IJC’s founder, Robert A. Katzmann, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.
As the daughter of immigrants who grew up in Wisconsin, Gonzalez says she is passionate about human rights and immigration issues. During her fellowship she will serve for two years as a staff attorney at the Safe Horizon Immigration Law Project in Brooklyn, New York, which provides legal assistance to low-income immigrants in an array of immigration matters including deportation defense and affirmative applications for those fleeing persecution.
While at St. Thomas Law, Gonzalez has assisted clients with asylum claims and provided removal defense through the Immigration Law Practice Group. She also worked outside the law school at a county-run domestic abuse service center, where she assisted survivors of domestic violence in navigating the legal system, including some who have complex cases due to their immigration status.
“Michelle has shown a continued commitment and passion toward advocating for immigrants,” Robins Kaplan Director of Clinical Education and Law Professor Virgil Wiebe said. “She is extraordinarily good-natured, but also refreshingly blunt when needed. Michelle has the drive, grit and skill necessary to be a powerful part of a nonprofit team.”
In 2019, Gonzalez travelled to Tijuana, Mexico, with three other St. Thomas Law students to work with the organization Al Otro Lado. The students provided more than 300 hours in volunteer legal services to asylum seekers at the border during free know-your-rights and legal consultation workshops.
Beyond her work on immigration issues, Gonzalez is a member of St. Thomas Law’s Trial Advocacy team, winning Best Closing Argument at the Southern Classic Trial Advocacy competition in Oxford, Mississippi, in February 2020. She is also an active member of the St. Thomas Latinx Law Student Association and the Minnesota State Bar Association Immigrant Law Section.
Gonzalez will begin her fellowship with the Safe Horizon Immigration Law Project in September 2020.