What's Happening in the Immigration Clinic
The following are highlights of the Immigration Clinic litigation docket. Student attorneys continue to represent clients successfully before the DHS, the Immigration Courts, and the Fifth Circuit Court in all manner of cases ranging from humanitarian parole and protection, family based residence, and citizenship and naturalization cases. The caliber of several immigration cases has national impact on the development of immigration law and policy. These cases form the largest part of the clinic's docket and are equally as necessary as the contested residence and asylum cases to expose students to the breadth of immigration procedures and laws and the skills needed to develop facts, read statutes and effectively represent clients within an administrative framework.
- Professor Hoffman and three clinic students collaborated with the American Immigration Council on an amicus brief before the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). At issue was the immigration status of "wave-through" entries to the United States. The brief argued that lawful permanent residents who entered the U.S. by a wave-through should be entitled to apply for cancellation of removal if they otherwise meet requirements under the Immigration and Nationality Act. The brief discussed several precedential decisions by the BIA which traditionally has allowed for such admissions to form the basis of a claim for deportation relief. The amicus brief was filed in response to the BIA's request for submissions.
- The clinic represented a transgender individual who had been the victim of a horrible crime, involving attempted murder. The client had previously been unlawfully deported before her appellate rights could be exercised. In years past, the clinic had been successful in getting her paroled back into the U.S., released from detention, and represented her before the Board of Immigration Appeals, USCIS, and now before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. This past year we filed a lengthy brief in the Fifth Circuit arguing that she was entitled to asylum due to fear of future persecution and for past persecution in Mexico based on her particular social group related to her transgender status. The brief was accepted by the Fifth Circuit and then before a response was filed by the government, Professor Hoffman, our clinic director, was contacted and an agreement to remand the case back to the Board was reached. This is a very rare outcome given the government does not usually agree to remands in appellate immigration cases. Especially important was the fact that certain issues were not addressed by the Board previously and the government identified those issues in their Motion to Remand. This was a great success especially in the context of a difficult appeal. The client is now awaiting a decision in the remanded proceedings.
- One of our staff attorneys, Professor Janet Beck and volunteer attorney Gaynell Floyd won an appeal for a mentally incompetent individual from Russia. The Immigration Judge had ordered the individual's removal. The Board found that administrative closure was the appropriate remedy and reversed the decision of the Immigration Judge. In addition, Professor Beck was asked to write an amicus brief for a detained mentally incompetent individual from Vietnam. On this case Professor Beck and Gaynell Floyd filed an amicus brief with the Board of Immigration Appeals and the case was remanded. The issue in both cases was whether procedural safeguards in each case were sufficient to enable the Immigration Judge to proceed with the hearing when there were indicia of incompetency.