TRII advocates and their stories: Roy Lee

April 12, 2019

The Right to Immigration Institute (TRII), founded at Brandeis, is a unique organization that trains undergraduates to become accredited representatives in immigration courts and to gain legal experience firsthand. It allows for immigrants to receive assistance with many types of legal processes, making sure they have the support and the knowledge they need.

Roy Lee ’21 is a pre-law student, double majoring in philosophy and history and double minoring in economics and legal studies. He also a member of the Brandeis Academic Debate And Speech Society (BADASS).

Lee participated in TRII’s learning program in the fall semester and is “still relatively new,” but is looking forward to getting ready to work on a case and is trying to get involved in different ways with TRII in the meantime. He discovered the group through his friends on the debate team and finds that there are multiple intersections between the two.

Lee’s involvement with TRII as of right now involves going to meetings with the entire group of TRII to discuss and vote on cases and finding other ways to participate. “I need to find a case I’m genuinely willing to commit to and find other individuals to work with,” said Lee about his future involvement with taking clients and forming a team to tackle it. He hopes to become more active within the group over time.

Lee enjoys being a part of TRII because of the way that it allows him to connect with his “background as an individual.”

“I’m from Hong Kong; I’m an immigrant; I have a green card here,” said Lee and mentioned that TRII is a unique activity offered at Brandeis that allows him to intersect the two worlds of his personal life and his academic one and help those who are “vulnerable in society.”

Lee is a first generation college student and said that framework “gives me the opportunity to work as an individual to give back to a community” and to individuals that have not had the same opportunities as him.

A challenge that Lee has faced was the time commitment involved with the training process. “Understand that it’s like an entire different course,” said Lee of the information that one will learn over the course of the semester. However, it is extremely important to dedicate that time to the content to be able to be a successful and helpful advocate within TRII.

He advised students who may be interested in TRII to respect the time that it involves and keep up with the work. Jonathan Goldman ’19, relations director of TRII, once spoke with Lee about the importance of time management and how being late to working on people’s files could mean “worsening someone’s personal life.” Lee said, “Time commitment does really translate into ways individuals are affected… it’s really important,” especially when it comes to intimate and personal stories.

TRII is an important group not only to Brandeis but the entire community. “It’s important that Brandeis has [TRII] because specifically no other school has it, we are one of the only institutions that provide free legal aid to people who really, really need it.” Lee also mentioned that Brandeis’ good reputation in regards to pre-law activities allows TRII and its members to exercise their interests “as vehicles through which we’re able to substantively aid the society.”

Lee said that many universities could benefit from a program such as TRII because there are so many students interested in law and wanting to work in the field but also that “there’s a huge immigration crisis in the United States” and that having more institutions that can set up such programs is “of the utmost importance.”

“We’re stepping into a field that’s going to change people’s lives,” he said.

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