Intern Working Against Internment

MPP student spends summer in the middle of immigration debate

The Carsey School of Public Policy’s Washington, D.C., Colloquium program inspired Master in Public Policy (MPP) student Jiedine Phanbuh '19G to pursue a summer internship in the nation’s capital where she could make a difference. Little did Phanbuh know she would spend it steps from the White House tackling issues of immigration law and policy as an intern for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

Phanbuh’s internship came at a time when there was public outcry around the federal policy to separate immigrant children from their parents and hold them in detention centers.

“Immigration was an area of intense national focus this summer, and my job entailed far more than what you might think would be expected of an intern,” she says.

At AILA, Phanbuh spent her time working with two distinct programs. The first was the Military Assistance Program (MAP), which provides pro bono immigration assistance to active and retired military members. By reviewing and analyzing MAP data, and through her personal outreach efforts, Phanbuh helped AILA serve 500 members of the U.S. military. As part of AILA’s pro bono immigration justice campaign, Phanbuh provided logistical and administrative support for services to over 300 families dealing with immigration issues. This work included a focus on detention centers and families who had been separated from one another.

“It was enlightening and empowering to apply the tools and knowledge I had learned in class to real life situations,” says Phanbuh.

She credits her ability to perform in such a fast-moving policy arena to her UNH education where she was submerged in a policy-rich environment and constantly had to think on her feet. Phanbuh points to the Carsey School’s D.C. Colloquium as having particularly prepared her for the strategy and practice of the D.C. policy world.

“At AILA, we were on the front lines pushing back against heavy-handed immigration policies. I was witness to many dramatic and life-altering experiences and saw first-hand how public policy can both cause and remedy these crises,” says Phanbuh. “I am proud that my work at AILA had a direct impact on the people we served.”

This article first appeared on UNH Today.

 

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