Summer Centered: Vanessa Quiroz Morales ’19 Delves into Immigration Law
The anthropology major is interning at Sweet & Paciorek LLC, a firm that provides immigration-related legal resources in the greater Philadelphia area.
One minute, Vanessa Quiroz Morales ’19 might be researching for clients in an office space on Vine Street. The next, she may be walking through downtown Philadelphia to the site of the Executive Office for Immigration Review courthouse to submit legal documents to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). But no matter what she’s doing during her Center for Peace and Global Citizenship-funded internship at immigration and nationality law firm Sweet & Paciorek LLC, Morales is busy with work that inspires her.
Headed by attorneys Anna Paciorek and Lindsey Sweet ‘03, the firm provides a number of legal services, including removal defense, asylum, immigration assessments on consequences of criminal activity, and visa petitions for families, workers, and victims of abuse, crime, and human trafficking. Formed only three years ago, the firm just moved its suburban Avondale, Pa., office to a larger location nearby to supplement its Philadelphia office, and is quickly growing its client base. According to Morales, this speaks to the acuteness of immigration issues.
“What I [find] important about the work that I'm doing is that I'm doing it in in this terrifying time for marginalized undocumented and refugee communities,” said the anthropology major and Latin American, Iberian, and Latino studies minor. “This work has always been important, it was important when Obama was president, and it's especially important now.”
Issues surrounding immigration in the United States are of paramount interest to Morales, who is Mexican-American and hails from Santa Ana, Calif. During the spring semester she participated in both the CPGC’s Migration Field Study and Bryn Mawr’s 360 Migration and Borderlands Cluster. Taking a trip to the Mexico-U.S. border, she said, “reaffirmed that my passion lies within helping the immigrant and refugee communities, as well reaffirmed my binational identity that I am still making peace with. ... This process of relearning immigration in a complex, nuanced, and inclusive perspective was further developed through conversations I had with my classmates inside and outside of the classroom.”
These opportunities, combined with prior legal internships in high school, led her to Sweet & Paciorek to try to bridge her long-time passions for law and immigration issues. As she helps translate during consultations with Spanish-speaking clients, draft legal forms, and find nonlegal resources for clients, she’s considering whether law is the best way for her to support immigrant communities as a future career.
“The work that I am doing now comes from an urgency to continue helping the community I come from after having had such a strong academic and personal foundation in immigration,” she said.
She doesn't have to look far for those in need of the firm's services. Just last month, Jonatan Palacios, husband of a Bryn Mawr alumna, was detained by ICE in Haverford township. The incedent reminds Morales that her work is “important when it affects a person from our community,” but also that, “it happens to so many families, especially brown and black families. We need to be there for them too.”
-Michael Weber ’19
“Summer Centered” is a series exploring our students’ Center-funded summer work.