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Alumni Spotlight

UH Law Center alumna Van Kote ’17 takes helm of immigration legal services group in Philadelphia

Camille Van Kote '17

Camille Van Kote '17

March 9, 2020 – Camille Van Kote, a 2017 graduate of the University of Houston Law Center has committed herself to educating, empowering and strengthening the communities of her immigrant clients with her recent promotion to executive director at Esperanza Immigration Legal Services in Philadelphia.

“My experience these past few months has been rewarding and challenging,” Van Kote said. “The changes in immigration law create a lot of confusion amongst the immigration population. The reward comes with being able to help a new client with their citizenship, residency or other immigration status.”

Reverend Luis Cortes Jr., driven by his religious beliefs, established Esperanza Immigration Legal Services in 1986. With a network of more than 13,000 Hispanic faith and community-based organizations, Esperanza is one of the leading voices for Latinos in America.

“I was particularly interested in EILS because of its community base and grassroots foundations,” Van Kote said. “Its goal is one of bringing direct legal services to immigrants in the most economically vulnerable parts of town.”

Since serving as executive director, Van Kote has been able to grow from a human and legal perspective. She has expanded her immigration legal knowledge by meeting people from different backgrounds who arrived in the U.S. through a variety of journeys.

“The anti-immigrant rhetoric and changes in the law create a difficult environment with increased enforcement and scrutiny,” Van Kote said. “It is more important than ever that the public consult with an immigration attorney before submitting any immigration application so that they do not put themselves, their livelihood, or their families at risk of removal.”

When remembering her time as a Law Center student, Van Kote referenced Royce Till Professor or Law Professor Ellen Marrus, who gave her an opportunity to work in the Center for Children, Law and Policy, in which Marrus serves as director. She also mentioned Clinical Professor Janet Heppard, adjunct professor Barbara Stalder, Legal Clinic Supervisor Diane McManus and adjunct professor Alfonso López de la Osa Escribano, who serves as the director of the Center for U.S. and Mexican Law.

“I received great support from the University of Houston Law Center in my desire to seek out training, education and opportunity in the public interest world. Working with all these professors reminded me why I wanted to become a lawyer.”

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