UHLC Immigration Clinic wins appeal for Mali couple

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Former UH Law Center student Charlotte Simon played a key role in the BIA win.

Former UH Law Center student Charlotte Simon played a key role in the BIA win.

Oct. 18, 2011 – The University of Houston Law Center Immigration Clinic has won an appeal from the Board of Immigration Appeals involving an asylum claim which was denied previously by the Immigration Court in Houston. The claim was filed by a Mali woman who had suffered female genital mutilation.

The woman filed for asylum with her husband as a derivative beneficiary in 2005. In August 2009, an Immigration Judge ruled that both respondents were barred from asylum for not complying with a 1-year deadline, and for failing to qualify for an exception. On Oct. 14, the Board of Immigration Appeals reversed the Immigration Judge’s decision and found her eligible for asylum.

Professor Geoffrey A. Hoffman, supervising attorney and faculty supervisor of the UH Immigration Clinic, said the win is significant for many reasons. “The Board upheld the Immigration Judge's findings that the mother had suffered previous FGM and was a member of a particular social group,” Hoffman explains. “The Immigration Judge had found that there had been a fundamental change in circumstances in Mali, the country of origin sufficient to rebut the presumption of past persecution. The Board however reversed, finding DHS did not meet its shifted burden of showing changed circumstances. Finally, the Board noted that DHS did not follow the precedential decision of Matter of A-T-, which concerned the proper analysis of a case where prior FGM exists.”

Hoffman credited a past student, Charlotte Simons, for her considerable research on this case.  Hoffman added, “She was in the clinic Fall 2009 and deserves the recognition on this challenging case.”

The University of Houston Law Center Immigration Clinic specializes in handling applications for asylum on behalf of victims of torture and persecution, in representing immigrants who have been the victims of domestic violence, human trafficking and crime, and children and those fleeing civil war, genocide or political repression, as well as appeals and federal court litigation. Students also give presentations to outside organizations that deal with Immigrant Issues and give individual assistance to immigrants held in immigration detention centers. For more information, visit http://www.law.uh.edu/clinic/immi.html.

Click here to read Hoffman's guest blog on the issue.

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