Update from the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic

Students, faculty and staff of the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic have just finished a fantastic quarter providing quality direct services to individual clients and creative and diligent advocacy to institutional organizations.  Some of the highlights of this quarter include:

Matter of R.

Katie Austin (‘13) and Becca Kline (‘13) prepared a U-Visa application for a victim of severe domestic violence.  This visa application is an effort to prevent a lawful permanent resident from being deported back to Mexico, away from her six United States Citizen children, nine United States Citizen grandchildren, and the community she has lived in for over forty years. In order to prepare the U Visa application, Katie and Becca conducted extensive client meetings, interviewed numerous witnesses, and communicated with experts around the country.  They wrote six declarations, assembled massive amounts of supporting evidence, and drafted complex legal arguments to establish the client’s eligibility for the U Visa.

Matter of A.

Chris Skelton (‘13) worked to fight the government’s efforts to deport his client, a lawful permanent resident of the United States.  This man, originally from Kuwait, has three young United States Citizen children and has lived in the United States for twenty-three years.  Chris conducted research on the effects of his client’s minor criminal record on immigration proceedings and met with his client extensively.  Based on this research and client interaction, Chris developed a litigation strategy for his client to establish his case for discretionary humanitarian relief from deportation and retain his green card.

Matter of M.

Despite his status as a permanent resident, IRC client M. faces deportation because of his past drug convictions.  M. suffered from drug addiction for a period of time but has since rehabilitated himself.  He has been sober for years and currently lives with his four young United States Citizen children and a United States Citizen spouse. Nevertheless, M. was placed in removal proceedings on account of his previous charges in February of 2011. Oliver Kroll (‘13) and Sue Wang (‘12) conducted extensive research on the effects of drug convictions on M.’s charges of removability, as well as the evidence required for immigration courts to find that the convictions must lead to deportation.  After complex strategic thinking, legal research, and consultation with their client, Oliver and Sue represented M. in an immigration court hearing, challenging the government’s charges against him.

Matter of C.

IRC client C. faced deportation proceedings on account of minor shoplifting offenses.  During Spring Quarter 2011, Adrian Garcia (’12) and Marcus Perkins (’12) worked to fight the government’s deportation case against C.  Continuing their work in Fall Quarter of 2011, Adrian and Marcus prepared an application for discretionary relief from removal.  To compile the application, they met with C. extensively, conducted witness interviews, gathered supporting documents, and drafted a legal brief establishing C.’s eligibility to retain her green card.  Adrian and Marcus filed their brief and supplemental materials with the immigration court and represented C. in a subsequent immigration court hearing.  If Adrian and Marcus prevail, C. will be able to avoid deportation to Taiwan and stay in the country with her son.

Matter of T.

In Spring Quarter 2011, Hannah Lommers-Johnson (‘12) prepared a motion to dismiss the deportation charges against IRC client T.  T. is an elderly lawful permanent resident with no criminal record, and whose only transgression was to spend too long outside of the United States aiding her husband in his medical treatment.  In order to prepare the motion, Hannah researched complex legal arguments concerning the discretion of the government to dismiss charges and met with her client frequently to establish the positive equities of the case. Based on the strength of the request for prosecutorial discretion, the government granted Hannah’s request this fall, rendering it one of the few successful requests of its kind to date.

Matter of J.

Rachelle Orozco’s (‘11) client, J., faced deportation to Mexico due to two misdemeanor convictions for possession of controlled substances, both of which have been expunged by California state courts.  In Winter Quarter 2011, Rachelle conducted extensive legal research on the effect of state court expungements for first-time drug offenses on immigration proceedings.  Rachelle submitted a legal brief to the immigration court arguing J.’s convictions should not lead to his deportation under Ninth Circuit case law.  The immigration judge granted the motion yesterday and allowed J. to remain in the United States with his family.

Guide for Pro Se Detained Immigrants

Oliver Kroll (‘13) and Chris Skelton (‘13) collaborated with Centro Legal de la Raza in Oakland, California to create a manual to aid pro se immigrants in detention centers apply for a U Visa.  A U Visa is a generous form of legal relief for non-citizens who have been the victim of a serious crime and have cooperated with law enforcement.  However, there were no known U Visa manuals to date to guide pro se applicants through the visa process. Oliver and Chris designed a manual, complete with easy-to-follow pictures and diagrams, to explain the legal requirements and walk detainees through the questions on all of the necessary forms.  In order to familiarize themselves with the detained population and field test their product, Oliver and Chris spent several days interviewing immigrant detainees at West County Detention Center in Richmond, California.  Oliver and Chris also conducted research on the eligibility requirements for the U Visa and the pro se materials that exist for other immigration applications.  The first of its kind, the manual developed by Oliver and Chris will hopefully be distributed in detention centers to assist pro se detainees access much-needed immigration relief.

Practice Advisory for Lawyers Representing Cancellation of Removal Applicants

Katie Austin (‘13), Becca Kline (‘13), and Sue Wang (‘12) collaborated with a national immigration non-profit organization to write a practice advisory for immigration practitioners around the country.  The practice advisory lays out potential arguments for establishing the eligibility of immigrants applying for cancellation of removal.  After extensive legal research, strategic thinking, and consultation with their client, Katie, Becca, and Sue drafted complex model arguments and compiled them into an advisory.  This practice advisory will help lawyers navigate a complex area of immigration law in order to advocate more effectively for their non-citizen clients.

IRC students are supervised by Clinic Director Professor Jayashri Srikantiah, together with Anna Welch (who serves as the Cooley Godward Kronish Clinical Teaching Fellow) and Alison Kamhi, who serves as a Clinical Teaching Fellow. Sandra Becerra provides legal assistance.