Migrant Farmworkers Clinic and Seminar

Around 24000-34000 migrant agricultural workers work in Ontario farms every year, with Essex county and southwestern Ontario employing a majority of these workers. Migrant workers, as a racialized and marginalized group in precarious status, face numerous forms of exclusion and discrimination. The legal regime that affects migrant workers functions at the complex intersection of immigration law, international bilateral agreements, employment law, workers compensation law, human rights law, health law, food law, law and political economy of agriculture, among others. Effective representation involves advocacy inside and outside the legal system using diverse and multiple techniques and tools and working with a multiplicity of actors including lawyers, the community, advocacy groups, social services organisations, government agencies, enforcement agencies etc. 

 

The Migrant Worker Clinic is an LFO-funded project organized by Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW) organization to provide legal assistance to the workers through a monthly summary advice clinic.  It is unique in offering a singular place for migrant farm workers in the area that will address their complex, intersectional needs.

This clinical course will provide substantive knowledge on Migrant Work Law and offer an opportunity to provide assistance in administering the clinic and advocating for migrant workers. Students will have the opportunity to prepare legal reports for wider publication, provide support for legal education and organising migrant farmworkers in the region, and may be able to assist in any major ongoing cases if and when cases arise during the semester.

For students, it is an important and novel avenue to get a holistic understanding of access to justice organizing, community engagement, and poverty law.  Students will learn how different areas of law intersect to produce legal marginalization, the policy and social environment around agricultural labour and immigration, and strategies on representing and advocating for migrant workers and similarly disadvantaged persons.

 

Students will attend a weekly seminar course which will provide academic knowledge and advocacy training in the areas of law that affect migrant farmworkers. This will include an overview of the challenges in representing migrant workers and advocating for their rights as well as the basics of immigration and refugee law, employment law, discrimination law, workers compensation law, and international law and policy in the context of migrant work. Students will be expected to assist in advocacy and outreach for migrant workers, legal research and investigations, and in preparing and publicizing legal education materials.

Students will also attend the summary advice clinic held once every month on Sundays in the Leamington area and support the administration of the clinic. Transportation help will be provided. Students will not be attending the summary advice clinic because of pandemic safety considerations.

 

2L and 3L students are eligible to apply. Students are notified by email of application details and can apply using the online Application Form

Applications Include:

  1. A letter of intent describing
    1. Any experience in social justice/rights advocacy for migrant workers or other vulnerable populations; any relevant courses you have taken in or outside of law school that address immigration, racial discrimination, employment, health, etc.
    2. What skills do you bring to this clinic and what do you hope to achieve by enrolling in this clinic?
    3. Why is advocacy for migrant workers important to you?
  2. Resume
  3. Transcript (unofficial will suffice)

Duration: Fall term
Credits: 4 per term

Evaluation: Numerical Grade
Pre-requisite: No pre-requisite but knowledge of immigration law, racial discrimination and human rights, employment law, and global justice and labour migration issues is recommended. Community advocacy experience will be useful.

Number of students: 10

Delivery: Online synchronous (no recordings will be made because of confidentiality reasons). Optional opportunities for face-to-face interaction.

 Evaluation will be based on:

 

1. 30% Seminar participation including attendance, active engagement, weekly reflection papers, adding weekly news to the discussion forum and/or tweeting about it (30%)

2. 40% Clinical participation including attendance and assisting counsel and clinic organizers Please Note: There will be no physical attendance of the clinic because of the pandemic. You will be providing assistance to lawyers and organizers through online means. This includes:

  • Legal assistance with casework (depends on the ongoing cases that semester)
  • Legal research and drafting of a section on the Law of Migrant Work, which can be used by legal professionals and advocates
  • Advocacy and organising assistance to migrant farm worker group (depends on the issues that arise that semester)

3. 30% Group Migrant Farm Worker Community Project: This will require students to work creatively, collectively, and collaboratively (among themselves and with workers and activists) and organize a community project of their groups' choice, e.g. a panel or film or a campaign/petition or even a creative Arts project.

Contact Professor Venkatesh for further information.

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