SEE COURSE DESCRIPTION
Professor: Bryan Lonegan
Offered: Fall and spring semesters. Credits: 5 (including weekly seminar)
The Immigration/Immigrant Workers' Rights Clinic provides students the opportunity to represent immigrant workers in a variety of matters that may include human rights-based claims to protection under the Refugee and Torture Conventions, human trafficking, and wage and hour claims related to employment. Students will be actively involved in all stages of litigation including researching human rights conditions in diverse countries, interviewing and counseling clients, drafting affidavits, researching and writing briefs, conducting discovery, preparing and arguing pre-trial motions, preparing witnesses for trial, examining witnesses (including experts) in court, and settlement negotiations. In addition to direct client representation, students may be involved in Know Your Rights presentations and community outreach on issues impacting immigrant workers in New Jersey. The classroom component combines pre-trial and trial skills with substantive immigration and labor law. The law clinic is open to day and evening students who are the equivalent of a third year day student.
Clinical Law Practice
Under supervision, students working in teams of two represent clients in all aspects of their cases including client interviews, witness interviews, factual and legal research, development of case theory and legal argument, discussions with law enforcement and government attorneys, preparation of pleadings and briefs, and when possible, representation in court. Students may work with attorneys from cooperating agencies, and may also conduct trainings for immigrant workers.
Recent cases handled by students include:
Students represented a gay man from Iran who had fled to the United States after multiple arrests in Tehran, fearing that a new arrest would result in his execution. Because the client is a chemist, he was of particular interest to U.S. immigration investigators. Notwithstanding these difficulties, students secured his liberty pending a hearing. This case is scheduled for a final hearing at which time the client will be represented by students.
The Clinic represented an ethnic Kurd from Turkey who had been subjected to police surveillance and harassment because of his relationship to a noted Kurdish journalist. Upon arriving in the United States, the client converted from Islam to Christianity. While Turkey is a secular state, there has been a sharp rise in anti-Christian violence there, particularly against missionaries and converts from Islam. This case is scheduled for an asylum interview at which the client will be represented by students.
Students undertook representation of a lawful permanent resident from Afghanistan who is married to a United States citizen and is the mother of four small United States citizen children. She was placed in removal proceedings because of her conviction for mail fraud as a result of having cheated on her driving test. During her residency in the United States, the Taliban had murdered her father and brother, leaving the rest of her family to reside in Pakistan as refugees. This case is scheduled for a final hearing where the client will be represented by the students who prepared her application.
Students successfully petitioned for the release of a Palestinian man from Gaza who had been in detention at the Elizabeth Detention facility. The client was ordered deported, but remained in custody a year later with no indication that he could be physically returned to his home country. By contacting the Egyptian, Jordanian, Palestinian, and Israeli missions in the United States, the clinical student was able to document that it is impossible to remove anyone to Gaza at this time, thereby compelling the client’s release.
The Immigrant Worker's Rights Clinic is assisting several members of an immigrant workers association in an action against their former employer for violation of state and federal Fair Labor Standards laws when they were constructively discharged from their jobs at a Chinese buffet. The case raises several issues of first impression in New Jersey’s federal jurisdiction, such as whether a plaintiff’s immigration status is discoverable in the liability phase of civil litigation, and the remedies available to undocumented immigrant workers who have suffered wage and hour violations.
The Immigrant Workers' Rights Clinic is also one of several members of a coalition, including the American Friends Service Committee, the Grace Lutheran Church, the Laborers Union, the Immigrant Ministry of Jubilee, the ACLU, a Newark City Councilman and the Office of the Mayor who are working with the City of Newark to create a day laborers hiring hall in Newark. Once the hall is running, students will conduct Know Your Rights presentations for the workers and will provide legal assistance to workers in wage and hour claims against unscrupulous employers.
Students are required to spend a minimum of fifteen hours per week in practice.
In addition to the live client component, the clinical experience also includes a one credit seminar. The seminar meets once a week for two hours and provides an opportunity for Immigration & Human Rights clinical students to work as a group on: strategic case planning; ethical issues that arise during client representation; interviewing and pre-trial skills; and trial skills. The seminar culminates in a mock asylum hearing and satisfies the trial skills requirement.
Criteria for Admission
In addition to the general clinic pre-requisites, consideration will also be given to the student's prior experience, interest in the subject area, commitment to public interest law and proficiency in a language commonly spoken by the client population. Students are encouraged to also take an Immigration Law course.