Professors: Lori Nessel and Margaret Martin
Clinical Teaching Fellow: Rachel Lopez (Fall 2011-Spring 2012)
Offered: Fall and spring semesters.
Students in the Immigrants’ Rights/International Human Rights Clinic represent people from all over the world who are in need of protection from persecution, trafficking and torture, as well as immigrant workers who have been the victims of wage theft. In addition to representing clients before asylum officers and in Federal Immigration Court, students may also represent clients in appeals to the Board of Immigration Appeals, the Second and Third Circuits, or the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Students may also be engaged in human rights reporting and fact-finding as well as comparative law and human rights projects with immigration clinics at the University of Sofia, Bulgaria or with a consortium of universities in Spain. Another key aspect of the clinic is providing assistance to day laborers in the greater Newark area, through wage and hour claims in small claims court and community outreach on issues impacting immigrant workers in New Jersey. The law clinic is open to third year law students.
Recently, Immigrants’ Rights/International Human Rights clinical students have:
Won asylum for a Congolese woman who feared for her safety after she left her arranged marriage to an abusive American citizen. Students demonstrated that the Congolese government was unwilling or unable to protect the client from harm at the hands of her father in Congo.
Obtained lawful residency under the Violence Against Women Act for a woman from Korea who was severely abused by her U.S. citizen husband and was facing deportation from the United States because her husband had refused to file for her green card.
Obtained a special U visa for a woman who was lured from India to the United States on a false promise of employment. When she arrived in the U.S., the client ended up working in a gas station, where she was sexually abused by her employer.
Prepared an amicus brief for the Inter-American Court on Human Rights regarding the need to protect human rights defenders in a case involving a Haitian lawyer who was arrested and tortured because of his work with the Justice and Peace Commission.
Represented an ethnic Kurd from Turkey who was seeking asylum after having endured years of police surveillance and harassment because of his relationship to a noted Kurdish journalist as well as his conversion from Islam to Christianity while he was in the United States.
Secured withholding of removal for a lawful permanent resident from Afghanistan who was placed in removal proceedings because of her mail fraud conviction resulting from having cheated on her driving test. Married to a United States citizen and the mother of four small United States citizen children, the Taliban had murdered her father and brother, leaving the rest of her family to reside in Pakistan as refugees.
Assisted several day laborers in actions for wage theft when their employers refused to pay the workers after weeks of labor.
Students are currently working on two novel petitions before the Inter- American Commission on Human Rights. One case involves a violation of the rights to health, life, and due process based on a hospital’s forced repatriation of a seriously disabled Guatemalan worker in need of ongoing rehabilitative care. The other case seeks to hold the United States accountable for an eight year delay in reunifying an asylee and her children in violation of the guaranteed international human right to family unity.
By acting as lead counsel in cases like these, students learn many facets of lawyering, including problem solving, interviewing and counseling, legal analysis and reasoning, legal research and writing, factual investigation, oral advocacy, and organization and management of legal work. These cases present students interested in areas including International Human Rights, Immigration Law, Constitutional Law, Family Law and Labor Law with a unique opportunity to learn about human rights conditions around the world and to see how immigration status affects constitutional, family and workplace rights.
CLINICAL LAW PRACTICE
Students will work in teams under the supervision of Professors Nessel and Martin in all phases of representation from initial client interviews through court hearings. Students interview and counsel clients; work with interpreters; interview witnesses; conduct factual investigations; prepare petitions, affidavits, legal briefs and policy reports; engage in legal research and analysis; prepare clients and witnesses for interviews and court hearings; and litigate cases in court. Students may also be engaged in community outreach, such as trainings for immigrant workers, and in human rights fact-finding and reporting. Students should expect to devote at least fifteen hours a week to their clinical work, including six hours of scheduled office time for case reviews and client meetings and should expect occasions such as trials and filing deadlines where considerably more hours may be required. Students must have flexibility in their schedules to accommodate the demands of an active litigation practice.
The clinical experience also includes a one credit seminar that meets once a week for two hours and covers substantive areas of immigration, asylum, refugee, international human rights and labor law, and offers an opportunity for group discussion of ethical and strategic issues that arise in each case.
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 or International Human Rights course.