Wednesday, January 20, 2010

UM Law Gets Busy with Haitian TPS

In the blink of an eye, University of Miami School of Law professor and Director of the Health and Elder Clinic JoNel Newman and staff attorney Melissa Swain, with the help of the inimitable Linda Osberg-Braun and Melissa Venceslau, taught a roomful of law students and one TPS-clueless attorney (me) the ins and outs of filing Temporary Protected Status applications for Haitians in the U.S.

Having put together a lot of events over the years, I can tell you: this one was a serious coup.  Last night Melissa V. tells me on FB that she's putting together the Powerpoint and this morning she and Linda take us through what I can only describe as a clear, incisive, and supremely executed two hour presentation.  Incredible!  The law students asked incisive, intelligent questions (despite the fact that they were not University of Florida law students (-;<) and despite not having looked at a TPS form in well over a decade...I actually kept up!

But the seminar was only the beginning: Professor Newman and her team have quickly deployed their resources -- essentially, a group of compassionate and caring law students -- to do their first round of pro bono Haitian TPS applications Friday - as in the day after tomorrow -- on behalf of Haitian medical patients who qualify.  How's THAT for responsiveness?

As I reflect on what these four women have accomplished in the past 24 hours, I remember vividly why I so firmly believe that bureaucracy is the greatest enemy of social accomplishment.  (And, parenthetically, why I am increasingly convinced that theirs is the superior gender.) 

Hats off, props, kudos, etc. to Prof. Newman, Linda, and the matching set of Melissas for their passion and commitment toward justice!



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