This article originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of Carolina Law
When he was a student at Carolina Law, Marty Rosenbluth ’08 heard of immigrants pulled over while out buying milk and deported without seeing their families again, essentially for what he calls “driving while Latino.”
Such stories led him to refocus at Carolina Law from human rights work to immigration law.
“I realized I didn’t need to go overseas into dangerous places to fight gross violations of human rights” — there is as much need for that advocacy in the United States, he says.
As an associate at Raleigh-based Polanco Law PC, Rosenbluth defends immigrants in deportation proceedings, mainly detained cases now, currently working in Polanco’s Lumpkin, Georgia office which is near the Stewart Detention Center, one of the largest immigrant detention centers in the country.
Most of his clients have faced deportation proceedings after arrest for minor offenses.
“I have defended people who ended up in removal for ‘crimes’ including driving and fishing without a license, riding public transport with the wrong type of ticket, loitering on UNC’s campus, and swerving too close to the yellow line — not crossing it, just coming too close,” he says.
Many clients are married to U.S. citizens, and usually their children are citizens. Still, “under our very badly broken system of immigration laws, they have few options to stay here legally,” says Rosenbluth, who worked for a Palestinian human rights organization in the Israeli-occupied West Bank in the ’80s and ’90s.
Before he entered law school, he volunteered for Amnesty International as a specialist on Israel and the occupied territories. After UNC, he intended initially to return to human rights work full time before he changed course to immigration law.
“Carolina Law played a huge role in getting me to where I am. I couldn’t be doing what I am doing without skills I learned in class, mentoring from faculty and other students, and particularly the immigration clinic under professor Deborah Weissman,” Rosenbluth says. “Now as an alumnus, I get almost constant support and encouragement from other alums. That keeps me going.”
As a 3L in the immigration clinic, Rosenbluth and other students wrote the country’s first report on the 287(g) and Secure Communities programs, which authorize local law enforcement agencies to work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Wake and Alamance counties were among the first to be involved.
“I have been fighting to keep families together ever since,” Rosenbluth says. “The most rewarding thing is reuniting families. Getting someone out of detention and seeing them back with their spouses and kids is amazing. I still tear up sometimes.”
-June 12, 2017