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Cases and Projects* -- Academic Year 2009-2010

Clinic Class, Fall 2009American Civil Liberties Union Immigrants' Rights Project

Founded in 1987, the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project (IRP) is dedicated to expanding and enforcing the civil liberties and civil rights noncitizens and to combating public and private discrimination against immigrants. For more than twenty years, the IRP has been at the forefront of almost every major legal struggle on behalf of immigrants' rights through class action lawsuits, law reform litigation, judicial rulings, and legal advocacy. IRP has won nationwide injunctions, established major precedents and litigated leading cases in the United States Supreme Court, including Demore v. Kim and the landmark INS v. St. Cyr, which upheld immigrants' right to habeas corpus and reversed the retroactive deportation of longtime legal residents.

On behalf of ACLU IRP, students at the Center reviewed and analyzed habeas cases brought by post-final-order immigration detainees in the Middle District of Pennsylvania over the last several years. They reviewed and analyzed these cases with the goal of assessing the adequacy of both the post order custody review process (POCR) and the habeas remedy as means of insuring the agency's compliance with the Supreme Court's decision in Zadvydas v. Davis. Students at the Center created tables that illustrated certain patterns that emerged from analysis of the case data and wrote a brief report that synthesized the data, highlighted statistically significant findings, and identified recommendations.

American Immigration Council (formerly American Immigration Law Foundation):

In 1990, American Immigration Council created the Legal Action Center (LAC) to promote fundamental fairness for immigrants, their families, and their employers. LAC has played a leading role among immigration law advocates and is staffed by experienced immigration practitioners and litigators. It conducts impact litigation, including filing affirmative suits against the INS (now DHS). LAC has also filed merits and amicus briefs in the federal courts and administrative agencies. In addition, LAC provides technical assistance and support to lawyers litigating immigration issues.

On behalf of LAC, students at the Center produced a white paper on the “asylum clock.” The Center reviewed and researched legal standards, practice advisories, and related material pertaining to the “asylum clock.” As practicable, the Center interviewed, collected, and analyzed information from attorneys, organizations and individuals (“stakeholders”) about their experiences with the “asylum clock.” The Center drafted a white paper that identified the law and policy questions raised by the “asylum clock,” incorporated examples received from LAC and stakeholders, and outlined related administrative and legislative solutions.

Human Rights First: and
National Immigrant Justice Center:

Since 1978, Human Rights First has worked to protect and promote fundamental human rights and to ensure protection of the rights of refugees, including the right to seek asylum. Human Rights First’s Refugee Protection Program safeguards the rights of refugees through direct legal services and advocacy, and helps asylum seekers find safety in the United States.

Heartland Alliance's National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) is dedicated to ensuring human rights protections and access to justice for all immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. NIJC provides direct legal services to and advocates for these populations through policy reform, impact litigation, and public education. Since its founding three decades ago, NIJC has been unique in blending individual client advocacy with broad-based systemic change.

On behalf of HRF and NIJC, the Center researched and analyzed hundreds of Board of Immigration Appeals asylum cases obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. Students at the Center identified which cases pertained to the “one-year” filing deadline and created a table that codes the one-year cases based on criteria requested by NIJC and HRF. The Center reviewed data coded by the Center, NIJC and HRF to write a brief report that synthesizes the data, highlights statistically significant findings, and identifies recommendations. 

Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center:

Located less than a mile from York County Prison, the Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center (PIRC) has become the leading source of legal services to immigrants detained by DHS in Pennsylvania. York County Prison houses approximately 700 detainees on a daily basis. PIRC delivers legal orientation presentations to detainees at York County Prison and Berks Family Shelter, provides individual legal consultations, self-help assistance and referrals, and offers limited direct pro bono representation to the most vulnerable immigrant detainees — including torture survivors and detainees with severe mental or physical disability. In providing legal and educational resources to detained populations, PIRC seeks to empower unrepresented immigrants to evaluate and manifest their defenses against deportation from the United States.

On behalf of PIRC, the Center created a “toolkit” on “LPR Cancellation of Removal” for use by PIRC attorneys. The Center reviewed and researched legal standards, practice advisories, and related material pertaining to LPR Cancellation of Removal. As practicable, the Center collected and analyzed related information from attorneys and advocates. The toolkit included sample documents of the following: 1) motions; 2) exhibit list and forms for the Immigration Court; 3) legal briefs; and 4) certificates of service. The Center prepared a brief summary about LPR Cancellation of Removal and collected related caselaw for the toolkit. Time permitting, PIRC and the Center agreed that the Center would work on up to two tasks relating to an individual case, including but not limited to drafting a legal memo, recruiting an expert witness, or researching a complicated legal issue.

On behalf of PIRC, students at the Center assisted PIRC with three “pro se” packets for use by PIRC. The “pro se” packets covered: 1) power of attorney; 2) analyzing whether a state conviction is an aggravated felony for immigration purposes; and 3) applying for deferral and withholding of removal relief under the Convention Against Torture. The Center designed the materials to target marginalized populations who cannot access current text-based information, including but not limited to children, low-level literacy, and limited English speakers. As practicable, the Center collected and analyzed related information from attorneys and advocates and also collaborated with art students or related experts to design content to convey messages as a substitute for text-based information in each pro se packet. As practicable, the Center translated the pro se packets into Spanish.

Tahirih Justice Center:

The Tahirih Justice Center (“Tahirih”) works to protect immigrant women and girls seeking justice in the United States from gender-based violence. Leveraging both in-house and pro bono attorneys, we empower our clients to achieve justice and equality through holistic direct legal services and national public policy advocacy.  Tahirih has developed an innovative and comprehensive approach to address the acute and growing needs of immigrant women and girls fleeing violence that combines direct legal services, client-based public policy advocacy, and public education.

On behalf of Tahirih, the Center reviewed governing legal authorities, NGO-government reports, and related court decisions on the “one-year deadline” in asylum cases.  Specifically, the Center analyzed a few hundred one-year deadline cases involving women, children, and/or gender-based claims for asylum.  The Center created a table that codes the cases based on up to six criteria approved by Tahirih.  The Center wrote a memo for Tahirih that synthesizes the data, highlights statistically significant findings, and identifies recommendations. Tahirih and the Center co-authored an issue brief to present the findings and recommendations. 

* Note: Clients have given special permission for information contained in this document to be shared publicly.