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A Selection of Recent Immigration Cases

Political Asylum

Clinic students successfully represented a young woman in her claim for political asylum. The client was from an African country and had entered the United States as a student. After she arrived, she learned that she was pregnant and subsequently gave birth to a baby girl. The client feared that she would suffer persecution if she returned to her home country as an unwed mother and that her daughter would have been harmed because she would have been subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM), a practice which the client opposed. The case was particularly challenging because the client's daughter, having been born in the United States, was a U.S. citizen and could have remained in the United States indefinitely thereby avoiding the harm. The students successfully articulated the client's claim by explaining, among other factors, that even if she returned home without her daughter, she would suffer persecution for being an unwed mother and for leaving the child in the U.S. The students demonstrated that if she returned with the child, she would not be able to protect her, and that the baby could be kidnaped at any time. They also demonstrated that she would be totally marginalized economically, socially, and culturally, and would face the threat of physical assault livingthe rest of her life in fear for the safety of her baby and herself. The client was granted asylum and is completing her undergraduate studies in North Carolina with her daughter.

VAWA Cases

Students successfully represented a woman in obtaining lawful permanent residency under the immigration provisions of the Violence Against Women Act. The client, who was from Mexico, was married to a U.S. citizen who physically and emotionally abused her. As a means of maintaining control over her, he refused to complete the necessary immigration applications so that she could apply for lawful permanent residency. The students prepared detailed applications along with affidavits and other documentation demonstrating their client's eligibility for relief. They researched the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act and prepared persuasive briefs, marshaled the evidence and argued the legal points in behalf of the clients. They obtained a work authorization for the client so that she would no longer suffer exploitation in the underground economy. They also prepared the necessary immigration applications to allow the client's two daughters who resided in Mexico to join their mother as lawful permanent residents. In addition to successfully developing their clients' claims to lawful permanent residency status, the students obtained a domestic violence protection order to prohibit the client's husband from harming or threatening her.

U-Visa Cases

Clinic students filed the first U-Visa (crime victim visa) case in North Carolina on behalf of a young girl brought into the United States by an older boyfriend who raped and stabbed her. After her release from the hospital, the client had been temporarily placed with a foster mother in Durham; however, within a short time after the assault, the NC Department of Social Services were making plans to send her back to Mexico. The client no longer had family ties in Mexico and was still recuperating with her foster mother who was providing much needed help with her physical and emotional recovery. As a result of the clinic's representation, the young woman has been able to stay in the U.S., and has obtained employment authorization and deferred status until the Department of Homeland Security issues U-Visa regulations at which time she'll be eligible to apply for lawful permanent residency.

A clinic student recently represented a young woman who had been shot through her knees by a former boyfriend. After dumping her off at a hospital, he threatened to kill her if she told anyone that he had assaulted her. The client was initially too afraid to tell anyone how she had been hurt and made up a story about what had happened to her but then changed her mind and identified her former boyfriend as the assailant. The student worked with police and prosecutors to obtain certification demonstrating that the client had cooperated with law enforcement in the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrator. On that basis, the student was successful in filing a U-visa petition and obtained employment authorization for the client who will be eligible to apply for aU-Visa once the regulations are issued.

A Selection of Recent Human Rights Work

ICCPR Shadow Report Project

Students worked with Global Rights and the Bringing Human Rights Home National Network to coordinate the writing, distribution, and lobbying of Shadow Reports to the U.S. State Dept. Report on the U.S. obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). UNC clinical students authored the report that was submitted to the UN regarding the plight of domestic workers in the United States. They were invited to attend various sessions of the Human Rights Committee (oversight committee to the ICCPR) at the UN.As a result of the clinic's report and lobbying efforts, the UN Human Rights Committee listed domestic workers as one of their priority issues for review with U.S. officials.

Gender Violence in Latin America Project

Domestic Violence in Mexico and Guatemala

Students worked on a project with the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) on police reform and gender violence. They compiled research on U.S. and Latin American policies, and drafted a comprehensive memorandum identifying and critiquing police, prosecutorial, and court practices regarding domestic violence. The memorandum is being used primarily by WOLA specialists and human rights groups working in Mexico and Guatemala. The document is the basis for lobbying efforts by WOLA and NGOs in Mexico to assist the Mexican federal government which is considering federalizing certain domestic violence offenses and enacting legislation similar to the federal Violence Against Women Act. As part of the project, students were invited to attend hearings on femicide in Latin America at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington, DC.

Cd. Juarez Reparations Project

Students worked with the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and prepared a comprehensive proposal to establish a reparations project for the families of women murdered in Cd. Juarez .The students outlined administrative, procedural, and substantive measures for the Mexican government to implement on behalf of the families. They researched the problem of femicide in Cd. Juarez, and the complaints of impunity with regard to the response of the Mexican government. The students drafted their proposal after researching the structures of various Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, Victim Rights Compensation statutes in the United States and Europe, and the reparations jurisprudence of the Inter-American Commission and Inter-American Court on Human Rights.WOLA presented the report to the Special Commissioner on violence against women in Cd. Juarez who had been appointed by Pres. Vicente Fox to investigate the murders of women and who has been given a broad mandate to coordinate federal programs to prevent violence against women.The clinic's report was also submitted to a federal legislative commission in Mexico City where it is being debated.

Trafficking Project

Students worked with advocates at Legal Aid of North Carolina and the NC Justice Center to develop a model protocol to assist attorneys interested in representing victims of human trafficking in North Carolina. As part of their project, students participated in a statewide coalition with state and federal law enforcement agencies, social services providers, and legislators. The model protocol they developed sets forth key issues for identifying victims of trafficking, and proposed strategies for a coordinatedresponses to allow immigration attorneys access to victims after trafficking arrests. Students prepared guidance for using the new civil remedy under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. The students also collaborated with a NC state senator who is planning to introduce state legislation that would supplement existing federal remedies and provide protection and benefits to trafficking victims. Students identified key elements and drafted proposed terms to include in state statute.

UNC School of Law | Van Hecke-Wettach Hall | 160 Ridge Road, CB #3380 | Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380 | 919.962.5106


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