Students involved in the UI Center for Human Rights: Know Your Rights Pro Bono Projectect spent the semester preparing for a “Know Your Rights” presentation at the Hardin County jail. They edited the “Know Your Rights” manual that was compiled last year by 2L, Alison Kanne. The goal of the manual is to create an easily accessible guide to help immigrants navigate their way through their removal proceedings.

The manual explains the various courses of action that a detainee might wish to take, and walks through when certain actions must be taken and who may qualify for such actions. Though the manual is not designed to serve as a substitute for legal representation, it is a way for detainees to understand the process a little more.

As a culmination of the semester, the students traveled to the Hardin County Law Enforcement Center in Eldora, IA to give a “Know Your Rights” presentation. Around 20 detainees participated in the presentation.

Students who participated in the project felt very rewarded to have had the chance to work on such an important project. When asked why she participated in the project, 1L Emily Summers said:

I wanted to be a part of this project to learn more about the detention process and what that can look like for undocumented individuals in Iowa. I also wanted a more comprehensive understanding of how criminal matters impact immigration issues, and what can be done to assist individuals in detention proceedings.

Visiting the jail gave the students a practical opportunity to demonstrate what they had learned with the population for whom it matters the most: the detainees themselves. The students all agreed that even if none of the detainees decide to fight their cases, they deserve to know their rights.