Law students raise awareness on COVID-related discrimination by working to pass Nashville city resolution

Oct 22, 2020

Amid stay-at-home orders and uncertainty over the availability of summer jobs, Cloe Anderson ’21, Grace Ko ’21 and Sarah Dvorak ’22 turned their concern into action. Working fully remotely with Professor Karla McKanders in the Immigration Practice Clinic, the students helped to pass Metro Council resolution RS 2020-433, which supports communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19. The team of pro bono students worked with Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, the Asian and Pacific Islanders of Middle Tennessee, the Tennessee Asian Pacific American Bar Association and the Hispanic Bar Association to assist in drafting the resolution. On July 7, 2020, Metropolitan Council of Nashville and Davidson County passed the resolution.

Cloe Anderson ’21, Grace Ko ’21 and Sarah Dvorak ’22 worked remotely to help pass Metro Council resolution RS 2020-433 in Summer 2020.
Cloe Anderson ’21, Grace Ko ’21 and Sarah Dvorak ’22 worked remotely to help pass Metro Council resolution RS 2020-433 in Summer 2020.

The text of the resolution recognizes increased discrimination and harassment, stating “[F]ear and misinformation around the COVID-19 pandemic has led to blanket discrimination against the API community and emboldened racist sentiments in Nashville.”

The text of the resolution also highlights how some communities are disproportionately affected by the pandemic. “COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted people of color, who are more likely to have limited access to health care and be the front-line workers in grocery stores, factories, and other essential, low-wage or hourly wage occupations.”

The students also produced a library resource guide with the help of Vanderbilt Research Services Librarian Sarah Dunaway. The guide, “COVID-19 and Racism: Legislative Responses,” charts legislative responses to the coronavirus across the United States, including introduced and passed resolutions. “We learned a lot about local government and the process for passing a resolution,” said Ko. “It was a very rewarding experience.”

Professor Karla McKanders directs the Immigration Practice Clinic and teaches Refugee and Immigration Law. Her work has taken her throughout the U.S. and abroad teaching and researching the efficacy of legal institutions charged with processing migrants and refugees. She has been cited as an authority on immigration and refugee law by such media outlets as Reuters, ABC News and Al-Jazeera.

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