Immigrants with Past Convictions

Students who defend immigrants with past convictions learn complex legal analysis and writing skills, detailed factual investigation, and how to think on their feet in court.

Cases at the Intersection of Immigration and Criminal Law

Matter of R

Students assisted R, a lawful permanent resident with a criminal record who has lived in the U.S. since childhood. R had served a prison sentence and was eventually transferred to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center after R completed his sentence. The Department of Homeland Security issued a Notice to Appear and charged R as deportable based on a past conviction. R’s case is nopending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Students conducted multiple client phone interviews and visited R at the detention center to advise him about his case. In addition, students conducted complex legal research and drafted the opening brief for filing in the Ninth Circuit.

Matter of M

Students assisted M, a lawful permanent resident who is in removal proceedings in Immigration Court. M was detained at the airport by Customs and Border Protection upon his return from a trip to visit family in Peru. M had lived in the U.S. for 30 years, but had a criminal background and was served with a Notice to Appear, charging M as inadmissible. IRC students conducted multiple client interviews, drafted a declaration, and prepared an application to cancel his removal, which would allow M to remain in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident in spite of a criminal record.
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We wanted to explain that despite his interaction with law enforcement, he was an incredible young man who had spent all of his formative years here.

Nicole DeMoss '14

IRC students represented Z in adversarial removal proceedings before an immigration judge. Z faced removal due to past drug convictions, despite being a longtime lawful permanent resident. Clinic students represented Z in court, to show that Z has rehabilitated himself from prior drug addiction, and has been sober for years. Thanks to the creative lawyering of IRC students, Z prevailed in his case and currently lives with his four young United States Citizen children and a United States Citizen spouse.

IRC students assisted M, a lawful permanent resident from Fiji who has lived in the United States with his family for over 21 years. M had some minor brushes with the criminal justice system as a young adult, and DHS alleged that the government could deport M based on a very old conviction. Clinic students developed and filed a complex brief before the immigration judge, and also represented M at a contested hearing. Students argued that M's old conviction should not lead to his deportation as a matter of law. The students prevailed, and M no longer lives under threat of removal.

Through our legal research and advocacy, we provided our already informed client with knowledge to better understand the challenges of her case.

Kara McBride '15 and Nikki Marquez '15

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Impact Litigation on Behalf of Immigrants with Past Convictions

For over a decade, the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic has worked on impact litigation to make sure that immigrants are not subjected to deportation based on old convictions for which they have served their time. Students have developed new legal arguments and written complex briefs that were filed before the federal courts of appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. Clinic students have contributed to many key cases at the intersection of immigration and criminal law.

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