Blog Entry 19
Good things are happening at the Immigration Law Clinic. We had a pretty active term with seven individual hearings, fifteen master calendar hearings, eighteen applications for relief filed (including four extensive asylum claims, a T visa petition, and three citizenship applications, as well as other petitions). We also researched and wrote six briefs to the Board of Immigration Appeals or Sixth Circuit. And, last but not least, we hosted three DACA workshops and staffed another six workshops. Phew!
Change is another good thing happening this term. We say good bye and thank you to the International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit, our host for the past three years, and move into our renovated new home just down the block from the Law School. We loved all of the space at the International Institute and will miss the staff and the cafe in the basement but it will be nice to have all of our clinics under one roof and a quick walk to the Law School. Our new office is also walking distance to the Immigration Court. It will take some time to unpack and get used to the new digs but, by the start of next term, we will be settled in.
The following are brief descriptions of cases on which students have been working this term:
Scarlett has been working with Gabriel, a gay man from Jamaica. He came to the US when he was around 14 years old and was able to become a legal permanent resident. Gabriel had some financial trouble in college which resulted in a conviction for writing bad checks and fraud. Gabriel is seeking cancellation of removal and asylum. Gabriel fears that if he is removed to Jamaica, he will be persecuted for being gay. This fear is based on a visit in the early 90s where Gabriel and his partner were assaulted after attending a street party. He has not returned to Jamaica since. Scarlett’s research shows that country conditions have not changed for openly gay men. In 2002, Gabriel was involved in a car accident from which he suffers memory loss. This has negatively impacted his case because, during his first hearing there were inconsistencies between the asylum application and his testimony. During his recent hearing in October, Gabriel brought in witnesses to testify on his behalf regarding the incident in Jamaica and his fear of being persecuted. Also during the hearing, the judge granted Gabriel time to undergo a psychological evaluation in regards to his loss of memory claim. Gabriel’s case was extended until 2013.
Jessica has been helping George and his wife apply for asylum from Syria. George had a son who volunteered with the Red Crescent Society. One day while on an ambulance call, the ambulance was shot from all angles. George’s son suffered nine bullet wounds and was hospitalized. A week later, he died from his wounds. The story received a lot of media attention locally and abroad. George reported the incident to the police because there was suspicion the attack was by the military. Soon after, George was being brought in for questioning by the secret police. Each time George was brought in for questioning, they used physical force, intimidated him and asked him to say that rebels had shot the ambulance. The last time he was brought in one of the guards told him if he did not cooperate, the next time they brought him in, he would not return. George and his wife came to the US out of fear for their lives. George has spoken to the European Parliament in France against the Syrian government. He has also spoken out while in the US about the incident with his son. In assisting with their asylum application, Jessica’s research was able to find compelling evidence to show that attacks on medical personnel is a common practice in Syria. George and his wife have their interview in a few weeks and we are hopeful for a positive outcome!
Kat’s client, Roza, is from Kosovo. She came here in the late 90s with her husband and her son. The marriage was arranged and Roza’s in-laws were abusive in Kosovo. The family came to the US after Roza’s husband had an altercation with his older brother. Her husband filed for asylum in which Roza was forced to lie because he was abusive towards her and their son. Her husband was deported because he was caught smuggling guns which he blames her for. In retaliation, he swore a blood oath that if she ever goes back, he will kill her. Roza filed for asylum based on domestic violence in 2010. Roza’s next hearing is in December and Kat has been working with her to obtain documents to support her case, such as testimony from family back in Kosovo. We are hopeful for a positive outcome!
Sara interned for Freedom House over the summer and was able to bring that experience and perspective to the clinic. Sara actually met her first client while he was at Freedom House. Arthur is from Congo wanted to go to Canada, but was turned away. Because he was out of status, he was detained and taken to the Battle Creek detention center. A week after the clinic started, Sara went to visit Arthur in Battle Creek for the first time. They discussed his case, filed for asylum and his hearing is now scheduled for November.