TULAP’s new immigration attorney in high demand


Courtesy of Molly Adams

Protestors marched defending DACA in Los Angeles in 2017

Recent changes in the political climate have led to increased uncertainty for Tulane’s immigrant population about its future legal status. An interdisciplinary collaboration of several campus organizations has helped address these concerns by advocating to hire a Tulane immigration attorney.

Marco Balducci, Tulane’s immigration attorney, has been working as a part of the Tulane University Legal Assistance Program since Feb. 19 this year. Ever since Balducci began working for TULAP, immigrant students all across campus have booked appointments to get their questions about their legal status answered.

“They’ve now been running the program since Marco was hired,” Laila Hlass, director of Experiential Learning at the Tulane University Law School, said. “They have a system where they have folks sign up for appointments. They go through those appointments, and the students conduct the intakes and work with Marco Balducci.”

The Office of International Students and Scholars is an organization that offers support for Tulane’s international community. The group sought to offer a platform for members of Tulane’s international community to openly communicate their needs.

In March 2017, OISS achieved this objective through of its creation of the International Partners Outreach Group. Hlass was among the members of this group.

During a meeting hosted by IPOG, volunteers suggested hiring an immigration attorney, and the idea gained positive reception. Following this proposal, IPOG created an additional committee within the organization to explore options for adding an immigration attorney on campus.

As IPOG pursued these efforts, the organization reached out to the Undocumented Student Support Committee, an organization devoted to protecting undocumented students on campus.

“We were looking at what are other universities doing, what could Tulane do, what are the different ways we could think about offering immigration council, and through that process we also knew that the Undocumented Students Support Committee had already been focused on this even before IPOG was created,” Director of OISS Kristy Magner said. “We reached out to them because undocumented students are facing the same — and maybe even more in some cases — challenges that international students are facing.”

The Undocumented Student Support Committee worked with IPOG to research options for adding an immigration attorney. Members of the Undocumented Students Support Committee also collaborated with the Graduate and Professional Association and the Undergraduate Student Government. These organizations further assisted in the coalition-building efforts.

After conducting further research, the IPOG committee reached out to leadership at TULAP to propose creating an immigration attorney position within the organization. TULAP accepted the request and hired Marco Balducci.

“After having those meetings with IPOG, I spoke with the leadership of TULAP to see if they would be interested in expanding into the immigration realm, and the answer was absolutely yes,” Hlass said. “They were thrilled to have the opportunity with the funding to expand.”

Since creating the attorney position, demand for appointments has exceeded expectations. Magner said she suspects that the high demand is attributable to recent political developments relating to the Trump administration.

“Every single workshop that they had, every single day, all of the appointments got filled immediately,” Hlass said. “They’ve already started to get requests for the summer, so we’ve clearly seen a huge demand.”

Hlass said she is inspired by the successful coalition-building efforts and looks forward to seeing TULAP work further to address students’ needs.

“I’ve been really excited and impressed by seeing how everyone’s collaborating and how quickly they’ve been able to try to address this need,” Hlass said. “It’s been pretty amazing to be a part of that.”

Leave a Comment