"It is uplifting to be part of something in law school where you work together as a team and have a positive impact on people's lives. There really is no doctrinal counterpart to the clinical experience." - Julie Mathis, 2L
"When you are in the Clinic you jump into the law where you directly advocate on behalf of those who really need it. It is an experience that cannot be learned in a classroom. Having real clients with real emotions, where your creativity and skills make a difference cannot be read in a textbook." - Eric Benavides, 2L
"The Clinic is intense but the practical hands-on experience you get has made it the most useful & worthwhile class of my law school time. This, coupled with the great feeling of helping people truly in need, has made the semester enjoyable." – Vickie Slater, 3L, Immigration Clinic F'08
The following are highlights of the Immigration Clinic litigation docket. Student attorneys continue to represent clients successfully before the DHS, the Immigration Courts, the Texas State Family Courts and the Fifth Circuit Court in all manner of cases ranging from humanitarian parole and protection, employment and 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.
Travis King, a third year law student in the Immigration Clinic, recently received notification that DHS had granted asylum to his client, Ms. X, an Iraqi political dissident who was forced to flee Iraq after being targeted for egregious violence and repression on account of her political beliefs. Because conditions in Iraq are fluid and the burden is on the asylum applicant to prove persecution, Mr. King and other students had a high burden of proof to meet. In fact, DHS actually issued a notice, which incorrectly assessed conditions in Iraq for political dissidents like Ms. X, which stated DHS' planned to deny asylum. The effect would have returned Ms. X to certain death and torture in Iraq. It was only through the outstanding representation by Travis King that DHS reconsidered its decision and granted Ms. X asylum in the United States.
Immigration Clinic student attorneys Daniel Vargas and Rehana Vohra successfully litigated a difficult permanent residence case before the Houston Immigration Court. Their client, Ms. M., is a foreign national and is a single mother to two United States citizen children who have lived in the United States for over a decade. Prior student attorneys in the clinic successfully litigated a humanitarian grant of legal permanent residence for Ms. M. However, DHS appealed. Clinic students fought the appeal and were successful in gaining a remand to the Houston Court. The remand was based largely on the unique humanitarian facts of the case. Mr. Vargas and Ms. Vohra so effectively introduced evidence and argued the law, that not only did the Houston Immigration Court, Judge Zimmer presiding, grant humanitarian residence for the second time, but the grant is now final, successfully ending the litigation for Ms. M and giving a sense of security for her and her two US born children.
A few days prior to the victory described above, a written grant of asylum in favor of two juvenile clients became final when the DHS time for appeal expired. The case involved cutting edge issues of asylum law, and gripping facts involving defenseless children who had suffered egregious and deeply traumatizing abuse that forced them to flee their home country and to make the dangerous and uncertain journey to America. The children’s case was rejected by several other attorneys before the Immigration Clinic accepted the challenge. Teams of student attorneys litigated the case before the Houston Immigration Court over a two and one half year period. Some students worked with forensic psychiatrists, country conditions experts and lawyers abroad collecting evidence, while others worked with the therapeutic mental health workers the clients needed. The Court's asylum grant was based on the work of the final team of three student attorneys, Nicol Eilan, Samantha Del Bosque, and Jennifer Reguiero who presented the case in chief to the Houston Immigration Court in a way that protected the mental health of their vulnerable clients, while successfully establishing their entitlement to asylum.