Winter 2018

Tales from the border

Students walk along the wall between Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Mexico.
Courtesy of Marina Aleixo

Teaching second graders in a Minneapolis bilingual classroom opened Nathaniel Gier’s eyes to the struggles and realities immigrant families face. As he considered pursuing a law degree to help them, a class at the University of Minnesota cemented his decision.

Gier was working toward a master’s in education when he enrolled in Borderland, Education Policy, and the Immigrant Student Experience taught by Marina Aleixo in the College of Education and Human Development.

The class covers issues related to immigration, policy, language, and culture, and includes a trip to the Arizona/Mexico border to see how those challenges play out. “My knowledge of immigration was confined to the students in my class,” Gier says, adding that parents would often ask him for letters of support or affidavits for their immigration cases.

He says taking the class broadened his perspective. “It made me see that law school would be a good option to pursue advocacy for more people.”

Now a second-year law student, Gier received a Robina Foundation public interest scholarship that allowed him to work on asylum cases during an internship this past summer.

Watch a video about the U of M Law School's Binger Center for New Americans: