Immigrants’ Rights Clinic Prevails on Behalf of Client in Deportation Proceedings

Earlier this week, students, faculty and staff of the Mills Legal Clinic’s Immigrants’ Rights Clinic received a significant ruling on behalf of their client in a deportation case.

Melinda Koster (’11) and Shira Levine (’11) represented M.A., a lawful permanent resident (“green card” holder) from Fiji who has lived in the U.S. with his family for the past 21 years.  M.A. has been defending himself from the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) efforts to deport him for the past seven years. M.A. had some minor brushes with the criminal justice system as a young adult, and DHS alleged that the government could deport him based on a 1999 conviction.  M.A. spent five years in immigration detention in Eloy, Arizona, pending resolution of the proceedings.

Melinda and Shira moved to dismiss the deportation proceedings against M.A. arguing that DHS failed to meet its burden of proof under the federal immigration laws. After extensive strategic thinking, legal research and consultation with their client, Melinda and Shira submitted a legal brief to the immigration court arguing that M.A.’s 1999 conviction could not lead to his deportation under Ninth Circuit case law.  The Immigration Judge agreed with their reasoning and, based on the merits of the brief,  ruled that the government cannot deport M.A.  This victory built on the success of Orion Danjuma (’10) and Jenny Kim (’11), who previously defeated DHS’s initial charge that M.A. was removable as an “aggravated felon,” a classification that would have resulted in almost certain deportation to Fiji.