A group of U of M law students took their ‘alternative’ spring break March 8-12 in
Miami working with Haitian citizens stranded in the United States since the earthquake
in their home country. Fifteen students participated, primarily helping Haitians with their applications
for Temporary Protected Status, which was created by the U.S. Congress in January
The idea for the trip, sponsored by the Public Action Law Society, grew out of a series
of emails received by U of M law professor Christina Zawisza about the large number
of Haitians who needed legal assistance to navigate the U.S. immigration laws.
Zawisza said it is a common practice in South Florida for citizens of Caribbean nations
to travel back and forth between their home countries to the United States on business
and to visit relatives. She said many Haitians who were in the United States when
the quake struck now have no homes to return to.
As proof of their resolve to help, the students pledged to pay at least 10 per cent
of their cost of the trip, and some pledged to pay the total cost, $1050. Two fundraisers were held in Memphis to assist them with the cost of the trip. Several downtown Memphis restaurants, including Bardog, Felicia Suzanne’s, Flight,
and The Little Tea Shop, provided lunch at the new downtown University of Memphis
law school building, and all the proceeds went to the trip costs. The Hard Rock Café also hosted a night of concerts by 25 local musicians; the proceeds
from “Healing Haiti One Song at a Time” were given to the Miami-bound group.
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