Sept. 10, 2013 -- An appellate team of University of Houston Law Center professors and students traveled to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans earlier this month for oral arguments in an asylum case involving three immigrant children.
Clinical Associate Professor Geoffrey Hoffman, director of the Law Center’s Immigration Clinic, and Clinical Assistant Professor Janet Beck, along with students Veronica Bernal and Salma Hasan, both 3Ls, worked on the case for a year. The immigration clinic joined St Mary's law clinic as well as a national law firm, McDermott Will & Emery LLP, in representing the children in their appeal to the Fifth Circuit.
The children had been granted asylum, but were the subject of a federal court action under the Hague Convention on the civil aspects of child abduction. The case is significant because it presents an issue of first impression concerning application of the Hague Convention when children have been granted asylum status. The Hague Convention does not require the return of a child to his or her home country when certain exceptions are shown, such as when the child would face grave risk of harm or the return would be contrary to fundamental principles of human rights.
Clinical Supervising Attorney Jill Campbell of the immigration clinic also worked with Hoffman on researching and supervising the two students on the case. Aaron Bruhl, associate professor of law and George Butler Research Professor, helped prep the case and sat as a practice judge prior to oral arguments. Nick Grimmer ’08 of McDermott Will & Emery conducted the oral argument before a three-judge panel on Sept. 5. The case is most significant as it presents an issue of first impression concerning application of the Hague Convention where children have been granted asylum status.
A decision is expected in two or three months.