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Foreign Language and Areas Studies (FLAS) Fellow, Melanie Beckwith, Law School, conducts research on Canadian and U.S. Immigration Laws

Melanie Beckwith at her office with the U.S. Department of Justice in D.C.
Melanie Beckwith at her office with the U.S. Department of Justice in D.C.

December 31, 2010

I am a third-year law student and recipient of a 2010-11 Canada Studies’ Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship. I am particularly interested in the fields of immigration and international human rights law. This year, I will be completing a research project in which I analyze how both the United States and Canada use immigration laws as a means of enforcing human rights. In order to gain a broader understanding of U.S. law and policy in this area, I moved to Washington, D.C. for the quarter. I am working as a legal extern at the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (HRSP) of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division.

As a legal extern, I am assisting the section’s trial attorneys with various legal research and writing projects related to their cases. According HRSP’s website, the division “develops and coordinates human rights enforcement strategy focused on preventing the U.S. from becoming a safe haven for human rights violators and holding human rights violators accountable for their crimes; targets human rights violators who reside in the United States for criminal prosecution; enforces the federal criminal laws relating to alien smuggling and other immigration-related offenses; and prosecutes extraterritorial violent crimes for which jurisdiction lies under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA) or pursuant to the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States.”

In addition to working full-time as a legal extern, I am also taking French language classes at night. The experience I am gaining at HRSP, combined with my continued study of the French language, will be invaluable as I continue working on my comparative U.S.-Canadian research.

Melanie Beckwith is a student in the UW Law School.