Attorney passionate about poverty law, immigration law


Ruby Robinson is co-managing attorney for the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, an organization that spearheads the effort to stand up for immigrant rights in the state.

A 2011 graduate of Wayne State University Law School, he began work for MIRC in 2012, after a year of holding down three part-time legal jobs. The full-time job “combined my passions for poverty law and immigration legal services,” he said. Having one full-time position also gave him the opportunity to stop driving between three different offices six days a week.

But working for MIRC is far from a break for Robinson when it comes to the volume of work he handles and the emotional toll it can take. Nevertheless, he is dedicated to his job and the mission of the organization.

“It is easy to be passionate about this work when I have such wonderful clients, coworkers and colleagues around the state,” he said. “And when injustice is rampant, it helps to be in a position to affect and lead positive change. I am fortunate to work for an organization that provides direct representation; performs impact litigation, often in partnership with others; mentors pro bono attorneys; answers technical questions; and overall, finds itself not only in the middle of but also leading the charge in Michigan to stand up for immigrants and immigrant rights.

“The superb work that my coworkers and colleagues perform every day gives me hope, despite the mounting challenges created weekly. I would be lying if I didn’t say the work is overwhelming. It is.”

The 11 attorneys of MIRC represent without charge all of the immigrant children in Michigan in federal foster care.

“These are children who arrived in the United States unaccompanied and children who have become unaccompanied as a result of the ‘zero tolerance’ policies,” Robinson said.
“Our role is to advocate for our children and help them be reunited with their families, if that is what they want. Alternately and for some children — especially those who entered on their own — their goal is to seek protection from the violence and persecution they fled, which may well be their families. Representing young children requires exceptional patience, ethics, skill, creativity and resilience.”’

MIRC attorneys represent any number of other situations for immigrants, as well.

“An intake could come from a family member calling about a relative who was just detained by ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement), a survivor of domestic violence living in a shelter, or a farmworker requesting assistance about workmen’s compensation coverage for an on-the-job injury,” Robinson said. “On days when we receive calls from detention or there has been a large enforcement action, it could be 15 more intakes.”

Robinson, who grew up in Franklin, graduated from the University of Michigan and worked as an AmeriCorps*- VISTA in New York before deciding to attend law school at WSU. As a law student, he volunteered for Lakeshore Legal Aid, and served as a student attorney with Wayne Law’s Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic.

“This experience opened my eyes in so many ways to the additional barriers that non-citizens face in regard to access to justice,” he said.

Robinson is active with several Jewish community nonprofits and synagogues, sits on the board of the Jewish Community Relations Council/American Jewish Committee, and enjoys spending time with his family, friends and his fiancée, as well as running and cooking, when he can find spare time.