Prof. Linus Chan Wins University Outstanding Community Service Award
Clinical Professor Linus Chan has been awarded the 2017 University Outstanding Community Service Award for his work at the Binger Center for New Americans. It is the highest honor the University of Minnesota gives for service to the University and community.
“Professor Chan has made a tremendous impact on the lives of countless immigrants and refugees, and their families, through his work at the center,” says Ben Casper Sanchez (’97), clinical professor and director of the Binger Center.
Since joining the Law School four years ago, Chan has created the Detainee Rights Clinic and the Legal Orientation Program, which trains students to help people detained at county jails by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. More than 300 people have been assisted since the program started.
“Professor Chan engages students and volunteer attorneys in representing detained clients with zeal, skill and an awe-inspiring work ethic,” Casper Sanchez says.
Chan also successfully petitioned the Sherburne County Jail in Elk River, Minn., to stop housing immigrant detainees with those accused of criminal offenses. His most high-profile case involved winning the freedom of Nelson Kargbo, a native of Sierra Leone, who had been threatened with deportation because of previous misdemeanor convictions. A former child soldier whose family had been killed, Kargbo suffered from emotional trauma. Chan recruited lawyers from Dorsey & Whitney and the American Civil Liberties Union to assist in the case, which was written about in The New Yorker.
“Immigration law is diverse, rich, and an example of how to define what our country’s values are,” Chan says. “Deciding who can be our neighbors, co-workers, teachers, and family often requires us to articulate our vision of the United States and whether it is to remain a shining light on a hill.”
Previous Outstanding Community Service Award recipients from the Law School include Barbara Frey and Prentiss Cox (’90) in 2008, and David Weissbrodt in 1999.