A $5 million gift from Harry J. Seigle ’71 JD will expand Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law’s immigration clinic, which represents children, young adults and parents in immigration court proceedings.
The gift will endow the Seigle Clinic for Immigrant Youth and Families, providing ongoing support for clinic programming and operations as well as staff recruitment, retention and professional development.
The immigration law clinic has long been part of the Law School’s Bluhm Legal Clinic’s Children and Family Justice Center. Its mission is to represent young people in immigration court proceedings seeking humanitarian protection due to violence, persecution or torture in their countries of origin. The clinic also works to keep families together by representing parents facing deportation and separation from their U.S. citizen and noncitizen children.
Law students play a vital role in the work of the immigration clinic by interviewing clients, conducting investigations, drafting pleadings and motions, preparing legal briefs, and representing clients at hearings before the Chicago immigration court and various agencies within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. To date, more than 150 students have participated in the clinic — many of whom have become respected practitioners and leaders in the immigration field or have continued to take pro bono immigration cases at their law firms.
Seigle’s commitment will bolster the clinic’s capacity for impact. Through his gift, the clinic intends to increase the number of immigrants it represents, especially in the states that fall within the jurisdiction of the Chicago immigration court; improve access to support services to help immigrants become more self-sufficient while they wait for their cases to be adjudicated; and advocate for immigration reform.
“We are extremely grateful to Harry Seigle for this impactful gift endowing the Seigle Clinic for Immigrant Youth and Families,” said Hari Osofsky, dean of Northwestern Pritzker Law and the Myra and James Bradwell Professor of Law. “His generosity will make a critical difference in the Law School’s efforts to assist immigrants and provide our students with important learning and service opportunities.”
The Seigle Clinic for Immigrant Youth and Families will be directed by Clinical Professor of Law Uzoamaka Emeka Nzelibe, whose areas of expertise include asylum and other forms of humanitarian status, removal defense and unaccompanied child migrants. The gift also will provide funding to hire a second immigration attorney to increase the number of attorneys capable of handling immigration cases.
“Recent headlines show that our asylum system is broken, and immigration remains a hot-button issue,” Nzelibe said. “This endowment establishes a permanent home for immigration work at Northwestern Pritzker Law and provides a space where honest and informed dialogue on immigration reform can occur.”
Seigle made the gift in memory of his mother, Lora H. Seigle, who was born in Germany and emigrated to the United States as a Jewish refugee in 1936.
“My mother’s life experiences inspired me to make this gift to improve legal services for immigrants,” Seigle said. “The idea behind e pluribus unum, ‘out of many, one,’ is central to my family’s heritage. Immigrants have helped make this country what it is today, and we are better for it.”
This act of generosity marks Seigle’s latest commitment to education, research and scholarship at his law school alma mater. In 2015, Seigle made a $3 million gift to support faculty excellence at Northwestern Pritzker Law and create a named professorship, the Seigle Family Chair of Law, which is currently held by Max M. Schanzenbach.
Seigle is principal of The Elgin Company, which focuses on real estate management, investing and philanthropy. He is the former president of Seigle Inc., a family-owned lumber supplier based in his hometown of Elgin, Illinois. Seigle is a third-generation Elgin native. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 1968 and a law degree from Northwestern in 1971. Seigle is a member of the Henry and Emma Rogers Society, which recognizes alumni and friends who have included Northwestern in their estate plans.