Safe Future for Client of Immigration and Human Rights Clinic

September 13, 2010

Students and faculty working at the University of Minnesota’s Immigration and Human Rights Law Clinic have secured asylum for another client fleeing political persecution, the third time in recent months that the Clinic’s efforts have enabled a person fleeing danger abroad to remain in the United States.

As a soldier in the national military of his East African homeland, the client had publicly questioned the ruling regime’s undemocratic practices and was subsequently interrogated, tortured, and jailed. After more than three years of detention, he managed to escape and travel to the United States. However, without a judicial order granting him legal asylum, he faced repatriation and renewed persecution in his homeland.

Moira Heiges (‘10) and Matthew Randol (‘10), together with student director Dana Boraas (‘10) and the Clinic’s Supervising Attorney Stephen Meili, worked diligently to prepare the client’s case. The team also received invaluable assistance from Emily Good (‘03) of the Advocates for Human Rights, the Minneapolis-based nonprofit organization that originally referred the case to the Clinic.

The team gathered documentary and photographic evidence of the client’s military service record and collected affidavits from family members and witnesses who spent time with him in jail. They also uncovered extensive evidence of conditions in his homeland, showing that repatriation would likely subject him to future arrest and persecution. Through the many hours of meeting with their client, the team gradually gained his trust and prepared him to testify confidently in court.

At the final hearing before the Immigration Court in Bloomington, Minn., the students presented their client’s case using thorough direct and redirect questioning. The team is delighted and gratified that their countless hours of gathering evidence, drafting briefs and motions, and preparing their client for court resulted in a favorable ruling.

“The students did a tremendous job working with the client, gathering evidence, writing a compelling brief, and ultimately persuading the judge of the merits of his claim,” says Professor Meili. “Asylum cases present a variety of challenges, and the students met them head on. As a result, our client can move on with his life here in the United States.”

The client is currently taking English classes, seeking a work visa, and looking forward to a safe and secure future in the United States.

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