Elyse Hatch-Riverashe/her/hers
Class of 2023
Political Science, Legal Studies

This summer I had the privilege of partnering with COPAL (Comunidades Organizando El Poder y La Acción Latina). COPAL is a Latinx empowerment organization located on Lake Street in Minneapolis. COPAL emphasizes the importance of letting communities who are directly impacted by injustices speak for themselves. In this way, COPAL creates innovative campaigns to empower suppressed communities. 

This summer, I specifically worked with COPAL on different projects under the Immigration and Democracy campaign. I worked to develop a legal clinic in partnership with the Volunteer Lawyer Network and helped COPAL with their citizenship tests.  I was also able to curate my own project on the 100-mile border zone in Minnesota. The 100-mile border is a zone that extends from any external boundary (land or sea) in which Fourth Amendment constitutional rights do not apply. I worked with COPAL to create a radio show in order to inform people on what the 100-mile border zone is. This project helped me begin to think through how our nation constitutes border zones. Within the 100 mile border zone, ordinary places become points of inspection, and because of this many people, specifically Latinx folk, are targeted. I believe the first step of dismantling the 100-mile border zone is showing that spaces such as the Midwest are also border zones. My work with COPAL this summer helped me to bring this important though little studied issue into better focus.

My work with COPAL was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had thus far at Macalester. COPAL has fundamentally changed how I will continue my advocacy work and will undoubtedly shape my own goals of becoming a lawyer.