Danny AliceaAlumnus, Class of ‘13

In his third year at CUNY Law, Danny Alicea (’13, served as the editor-in-chief of the City University of New York Law Review.

He described it as, “by far the most prominent leadership position” he has ever been in, up to that point.

Alicea came a long way since his high school aspirations of becoming a lawyer. His first practical legal experience came after he graduated from Stonybrook University on Long Island and joined the organization Immigration Equality, which focuses on representation of LGBT clients and HIV-related immigration cases.

Alicea, who is of Puerto Rican descent, stayed on at Immigration Equality for three years, eventually becoming a Board of Immigration Appeals accredited representative, which permitted him to represent clients in immigration proceedings before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. Still, he realized that getting a law degree would provide him with additional ways to pursue social justice.

Immigration Equality “was the definitive marker that convinced me that I needed to pursue the J.D.,” said Alicea.

Choosing CUNY Law was a natural move for the Queens born-and-raised Alicea, who wanted to pursue advocacy and immigration law. Immigration Equality’s director, Victoria Neilson (’94), gave him an extra nudge; she had graduated from CUNY Law and encouraged Alicea to apply.

“When I did my research, I realized that CUNY Law was the only place where I would get that focus on public interest work,” he said.

During law school, Alicea interned at Immigration Court in Manhattan, assisting clerks and judges with assignments, such as writing up bench memos and decisions.

The internship also provided Alicea with access to Immigration Judge Noel Ann Brennan, a member of the Katzmann Immigrant Representation Study Group, which is an initiative focused on increasing the quality of pro bono representation for immigrants.

“It’s the reason I needed to meet her and go to lunch,” said Alicea. When he mentioned CUNY Law, “her eyes lit up. She had nothing but great things to say.”

That lunch helped Alicea decide on his clinic choice, the Immigrant and Non-Citizen Rights Clinic (then known as the Immigrant & Refugee Rights Clinic).

After law school, Alicea has continued to advocate for vulnerable populations, including Latino and other communities of color, LGBT and HIV-positive individuals, youth, and, especially, immigrants.

Since October 2014, Alicea is completing a two year Fragomen Fellowship.  He is engaged in enhancing the pro bono immigration services provided by the City Bar Justice Center, the pro bono affiliate of the New York City Bar Association. He is training and mentoring pro bono lawyers. He is also working closely with his colleagues in taking on a number of new cases involving unaccompanied immigrant children from Central America.

MORE ON CUNY Immigrant Rights