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A Selection of Recent 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 kidnapped at any time. They also demonstrated that she would be totally marginalized economically, socially, and culturally, and would face the threat of physical assault living the 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 a U-Visa once the regulations are issued.

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


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