Center for New Americans Launch Celebration
The official launch of the Center for New Americans was held at the Law School on September 30. The event began with a panel presentation entitled "Saving Asylum: The Refugee Children of Central America." Why are Central American children seeking refuge in the United States? How should the nation respond? A panel of nationally recognized advocates discussed the efforts of lawyers, law students, and others to win humane treatment for the most vulnerable asylum seekers. Panelists were: Mee Moua (’97), former Minnesota state senator and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice; Michele Garnett-McKenzie (’96), director of advocacy at The Advocates for Human Rights, and adjunct professor of law at the University of Minnesota Law School; John Keller, executive director of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota; and Rebecca Scholtz, staff attorney at Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid. Benjamin Casper (’97), director of the Center for New Americans, moderated the panel. A reception honoring the Center's partners followed.
Detainee Rights Clinic Students and CNA Staff Provide Legal Rights Presentation to Immigrant Detainees
September 14, 2014
The Detainee Rights Clinic conducted its very first Legal Rights Orientation at the Sherburne County Jail. Student directors Maya Tao (’15) and Bobae Kim (’15), along with Kjerstin Sanden, CNA administrator, accompanied Meghan Heesch, CNA teaching fellow, and Linus Chan, visiting associate professor of clinical law at the Law School, to provide a short legal rights presentation to more than 40 immigrant detainees. A volunteer student interpreter, Pablo Castillo, from the Translation and Interpreter Project, also provided language support. Participants heard about the legal process of removal and detention, received legal materials, and were able to discuss their cases with student attorneys. Regular Legal Rights Orientation programs are planned for three detention facilities in the Twin Cities area.
Board of Immigration Appeals Publishes VAWA Case
August 5, 2014
Teaching Fellow Meghan Heesch's advocacy letter to Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) Director Juan Osuna, drafted in conjunction with national immigrant advocacy allies, has assisted in the publication of a key decision. In Matter of M-L-M-A-, which was previously an unpublished, non-binding decision until Heesch's letter requested its publication, the BIA now recognizes that a form of immigration protection under the Violence Against Women Act is available to a much broader group of abused spouses. The publication of this opinion significantly develops case law in the area and will provide attorneys and survivors alike with guidance when filing applications.
Center for New Americans Wins Cancellation of Removal for Long-Term LPR
July 29, 2014
The Detainee Rights Clinic, through Meghan Heesch as supervising attorney, secured an agreement to cancellation of removal for a long-term lawful permanent resident of the United States. The client was initially picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in rural Minnesota based on minor crimes committed more than seven years old. Despite being a lawful permanent resident of the United States for over 25 years with three U.S. citizen children, he was held in mandatory custody for two months. The Department of Homeland Security agreed to a joint grant of LPR cancellation of removal.
Kate Evans and Prof. Ben Casper Interviewed by Minnesota Lawyer on Clinic Case Headed to U.S. Supreme Court
July 17, 2014
Clinical Teaching Fellow Kate Evans, Professor Benjamin Casper ('97), and recent graduate Julia Decker ('14) were interviewed for a Minnesota Lawyer article entitled "U of M Center Heads to SCOTUS." The article covers the U.S. Supreme Court's grant of certiorari in Mellouli v. Holder, an immigration appeal handled by the Center for New Americans with co-counsel from Faegre Baker Daniels, L.L.P. and the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota.
Center for New Americans Urges Compassionate White House Policy for Unaccompanied Children
July 14, 2014
Teaching Fellow Meghan Heesch co-authored a letter to President Barack Obama that urged him to adopt a compassionate policy for the refugee crisis involving unaccompanied children along the U.S. Southern Border. The letter requests that the President maintain the protections for unaccompanied children in the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA). Over 100 professors and researchers in the area of human rights, immigration, and international law signed on, including Stephen Meili and Benjamin Casper of the Center for New Americans.
U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Case Litigated by the Center for New Americans
July 7, 2014
On June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari to Mellouli v. Holder, meaning the case—brought by the Law School's Center for New Americans (CNA), in collaboration with two of its organizational partners, the Minneapolis law firm Faegre Baker Daniels and the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota (ILCM)—will be heard by the court in its 2014-15 session. The court accepts for full plenary review only about 1% of the cases it is asked to hear.
Julia Decker (’14) Wins Clinical Legal Education Association Outstanding Student Director Award for Work in Federal Immigration Litigation Clinic
April 16, 2014
Julia Decker (’14) won the Clinical Legal Education Association Outstanding Student Director Award for her work in the Federal Immigration Litigation Clinic. Through the clinic, Decker drafted an amicus brief filed on behalf of the American Immigration Lawyers Association in the Eleventh Circuit to support the grant of asylum for an LGBT applicant from Haiti. She worked with co-counsel at the National Immigrant Justice Center in briefing an appeal to the Second Circuit on behalf of a young man who had renounced his membership in a Guatemalan gang and was forced to flee to the United States to save his life. Decker also completed research resulting in the development of several new arguments in a certiorari petition to the Supreme Court filed by the clinic along with Faegre, Baker, Daniels and the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota. To complement her extensive appellate work, she prepared evidentiary submissions and a legal brief on behalf of a client in removal proceedings in immigration court. Decker identified a seldom-used statutory provision that applied to her client, which the government and court agreed restored the client's lawful permanent residence status and put an end to the seven-year long proceeding. Decker also served as a summer student director in the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, managing cases for asylum seekers represented by that clinic. Clinic instructors Benjamin Casper and Kate Evans nominated Decker for the award and were delighted she received this clinic-wide honor.
Prof. Chan Quoted in Star Tribune on Sexual Assault of Immigrant Teen in Jail
April 14, 2014
Professor Linus Chan was quoted in a Star Tribune article about an immigrant teenager represented by the Center for New Americans' Detainee Rights Clinic who was sexually assaulted at Sherburne County Jail after he was housed with a convicted child molester who was a Department of Corrections Inmate. The story reports that the recent incident highlights a nationwide problem of assaults and sexual violence at immigration detention centers, which is exacerbated by the mixing of immigrant detainees held under civil detention with criminal detainees in county jails. The Clinic's advocacy led to the client's release without litigation, and resulted in Sherburne County segregating immigration and criminal detainees in that facility. The case also prompted the Star Tribune editorial board to call for the end of mixing immigrant detainees with criminal detainees in all facilities.
Center for New Americans Teams with Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi and The Advocates For Human Rights in Asylum Appeal to U.S. Supreme Court
April 2, 2014
The Federal Immigration Litigation Clinic, along with co-counsel from Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, L.L.P., and The Advocates for Human Rights, filed a petition for certiorari in the asylum case Gormou v. Holder. The petition asks the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and correct the government's misinterpretation of a controversial statute that requires most persons fleeing persecution to apply for asylum within one year of their arrival in the United States. Goromou was denied an available exception to this one-year time limit even though he filed his application just 33 days late under extenuating circumstances, without a lawyer, and while suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder due to undisputed past torture.
Counsel on the petition were Mahesha Subbaraman, Janet Evans, Eric Magnuson, Anne M. Lockner, and Sally Silk from Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi; Amy Bergquist and Deepinder Mayell from The Advocates For Human Rights; and Benjamin Casper (’97) and Kate Evans from the Center for New Americans. Law students from both the Federal Immigration Litigation Clinic and the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic worked on Goromou's case at all stages as it advanced from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court: Gaelen Schumann (’14), Hayley Steptoe (’14), Lina Houston (’14), Anna Finstrom (’15), and Justin Erickson (’13).
Center for New Americans Coordinates Advocacy Effort on Behalf of Immigrant Victims of Abuse
March 19, 2014
Teaching Fellow Meghan Heesch, working in conjunction with national immigrant advocacy allies, drafted a letter to the Board of Immigration Appeals urging publication of several decisions that together would provide enhanced immigration protection to vulnerable women, children and crime victims under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the U-Visa statute. With the publication of 10 additional VAWA and U-Visa decisions, the letter suggested that the Board would provide a national legal framework for immigration judges, practitioners, and survivors of violence. The letter was presented to Director Juan Osuna, Director of the Justice Department's Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR).
Center for New Americans and Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota Co-host Prosecutorial Discretion Round Table
March 13, 2014
Center for New Americans Director Ben Casper led a roundtable session of more than 40 practicing immigration attorneys and Minnesota law students regarding Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) application of its internal prosecutorial discretion (PD) policies here in Minnesota and nationwide. John Keller and Kathy Klos of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota (ILCM) presented a case study of a recent victory that highlighted several issues for lawyers to stay attuned to when approaching DHS with requests for PD. The roundtable included a group discussion of observations related to DHS's practices and served to launch a special collaborative project involving law students that will document DHS use of PD and seek more consistent DHS application of its own PD policies.
Center for New Americans Hosts Detainee Mental Health Roundtable
February 28, 2014
Visiting Professor and Detainee Rights Clinic Director Linus Chan presided over a roundtable discussion with local practitioners and students about issues impacting mentally ill detainees in immigration proceedings. After first outlining the state of the law after the Board of Immigration Appeal's precedential decision in Matter of M-A-M, Professor Chan shared his observations about care and attention given to clinic clients with mental illness throughout proceedings, as well as a comparative analysis of other jurisdictions' solutions. Practicing immigration lawyers provided additional perspective. The Center will continue to monitor the treatment and access to services for mentally ill detainees in Department of Homeland Security custody. Students Bobae Kim (’15), Marco Carvajal (’15) and Eikoku Ikeno (’14) provided research assistance to Professor Chan.
Center for New Americans Teams with Faegre, Baker, Daniels and the Immigrant Law Center in Appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court
February 25, 2014
The Federal Immigration Litigation Clinic [Kate Evans, Teaching Fellow; Benjamin Casper, Director; with assistance from student director Julia Decker (’14)] filed its first certiorari petition to the Supreme Court today in Mellouli v. Holder, a collaborative litigation effort with Center for New Americans partners Faegre, Baker, Daniels (attorneys Jon Laramore, Lucetta Pope, Daniel Pulliam) and the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota (attorneys John Keller and Sheila Stuhlman). This case arose when immigration officers sought to remove Mr. Mellouli, a lawful permanent resident, based on his state conviction for possession of drug paraphernalia, but without evidence that the drug associated with the paraphernalia was one that the federal government also prohibits under the immigration statute. Because states and the federal government often control different substances, Mr. Mellouli argued that he should not be removed under the federal immigration statute, which references only the list of federally controlled substances, unless there was proof that his conviction involved one of those drugs. The Eighth Circuit agreed with the Board of Immigration Appeals that such proof was not necessary, but the en banc Third Circuit has squarely rejected the Eighth Circuit's position. The Center's petition asks the U.S. Supreme Court to step in and resolve this circuit court disagreement.
Immigration and Human Rights Clinic Client Wins Asylum
January 3, 2014
Students in Professor Stephen Meili's Immigration and Human Rights Clinic celebrated the affirmative grant of asylum for a clinic client. The client is a Cameroonian man who feared persecution on account of his sexual orientation. This man survived a severe beating by a mob for being gay, and suffered imprisonment, severe beatings and torture by police officers in Cameroon. Clinic students began working on the case in March 2012 upon referral from The Advocates for Human Rights.
Center for New Americans and Faegre, Baker, Daniels Pursue Impact Litigation in Eighth Circuit
November 27, 2013
The Center for New Americans Federal Immigration Litigation Clinic (Kate Evans, Teaching Fellow; and Benjamin Casper, Director) in partnership with a pro bono team from Faegre, Baker, Daniels (attorneys Aaron Van Oort, Lucetta Pope, Peter Magnuson) and local immigration attorney Bruce Nestor filed an opening brief with the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in Bello-Galeno v. Holder, challenging the validity of former Attorney General Mukasey's decision, Matter of Silva-Trevino, regarding the proper evaluation of certain criminal convictions in immigration proceedings. Mr. Bello-Galeno was prevented from filing a request to remain in the United States with his United States citizen son because of his pro se plea to a misdemeanor criminal charge in California more than 20 years ago. The decision in Silva-Trevino, legally controversial from the start, reversed nearly a century of settled immigration case law, and became even more tenuous after two key decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. The Center's appeal was supported by an amicus curiae brief from the Immigrant Defense Fund and the National Immigration Project, represented by the New York University School of Law's Immigrant Rights Clinic.