Immigration and Human Rights Clinic Provides Successful Advocacy for Three Clients

January 22, 2015

The Law School’s Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, part of the Center for New Americans (CNA), has recently seen its efforts lead to positive outcomes in three asylum-related cases.

  • The first case involved a man from a West African country who rejected the beliefs of his tribe after converting to Christianity. He received death threats, as did members of his family, and he fled to the United States. Clinic students began working on his case in 2013 after a referral from The Advocates for Human Rights and Emily Good (’03), an Advocates attorney and adjunct professor at the Law School; Good assisted in supervising the case. Law students Alexis Watts (’14), AnneMarie Curtin (‘14), and Claudia Vincze Turcean (’13) helped prepare the client’s application for asylum, and Anu Jaswal (’15) represented him at his asylum interview under the supervision of CNA teaching fellow Meghan Heesch. The clinic recently received word that the man had been granted asylum in the United States. Clinical professor Stephen Meili, the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic’s supervising attorney, commented, “This case demonstrates that the United States adheres to its international treaty obligations to provide refuge to those whose right to freedom of expression has been violated.”
  • The clinic also helped a person known as a derivative asylee—specifically, the daughter of an Ethiopian woman who had previously been granted asylum—to obtain her green card as a lawful permanent U.S. resident. The case was a pro bono collaboration between the clinic and The Advocates for Human Rights. Law students Justin Erickson (’13), Julia Decker (’14), and Jaclyn Campoli (’14) began the adjustment application process in 2013; Jaswal and Heesch continued to fight for a fee waiver before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services by presenting thorough documentary evidence. The waiver was granted this month.
  • In the third case, an Iraqi woman who feared persecution in her home country was recently granted asylum in the United States. The client was in the U.S. on a student visa that was due to expire when she completed college. During her sophomore year, she stopped wearing a hijab. When her family learned of this, her father and uncles told her that upon her return to Iraq she would be forced to marry a first cousin, to wear a hijab and participate in other Shiite traditions, and to abandon her studies and stay at home. With the help of clinic students, the client applied for asylum on the grounds that she would be persecuted in Iraq due to her religious and political beliefs, as well as her membership in a social group of Shiite women of Feyli Kurdish ethnicity who are refusing to conform to gender-based social norms. During the three-year process of gaining asylum, she was represented by law students Curtin, Jaswal, Turcean, Watts, and Eleanor Lewis (’14), under the supervision of Good and CNA teaching fellow Kate Evans.

“Successful asylum applications require a tremendous amount of work and dedication by students and their supervising attorneys,” said Meili. “These cases were no exception.”

Anu Jaswal (’15), Julia Decker (’14), Stephen Meili, Emily Good (’03), and Jaclyn Campoli (’14)
Anu Jaswal (’15), Julia Decker (’14), Stephen Meili, Emily Good (’03), and Jaclyn Campoli (’14)

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