Real Cases. Real Experience.
Read more about the Immigration Clinic’s work in opposition to the immigration detention of families at the controversial T. Don Hutto Detention Center.
Student attorneys in the Immigration Clinic provide crucial representation to vulnerable low-income immigrants before the immigration courts, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Board of Immigration Appeals and the federal courts. Through legal representation of clients and participation in the classroom component of the clinic, students learn substantive immigration law, practice important legal advocacy techniques and explore different models for ethical, responsible and effective lawyering.
Student attorneys in the clinic take on primary responsibility for their cases, with guidance and mentoring from the clinic faculty. Each semester, the clinic’s student attorneys conduct a range of lawyering activities including: client interviewing, development of case strategy, brief writing, preparation of witnesses, and presentation of cases before the courts and the immigration agency.
The Immigration Clinic’s clients hail from all over the world. The clinic has handled cases from, among other countries, Colombia, El Salvador, Eritrea, Guatemala, Guinea, Honduras, India, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Somalia, Togo, Uzbekistan and Zimbabwe.
The cases handled by the Immigration Clinic are diverse and illustrate the breadth of immigration practice. The clinic represents clients seeking asylum based on political persecution or religious, ethnic or gender-based violence in their home countries, as well as victims of domestic violence and other crimes here in the United States seeking immigration benefits under the Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”) and related immigration provisions. The clinic also defends long time permanent residents and other immigrants facing deportation, sometimes petitioning for their release from detention as well as handling their cases on the merits of their applications for cancellation of removal or adjustment of status. In addition, the clinic represents individuals born abroad who claim United States citizenship through their parents but whose status has not been recognized by immigration authorities.
A final important component of the clinic’s caseload involves work at the T. Don Hutto Detention Center, a controversial facility that held entire families of asylum seekers until recently. The clinic led a federal court challenge to the detention of families at the facility, brought claims of human rights violations at the facility to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and represented individual families in their asylum claims and their petitions for release from detention. In the summer of 2009, the clinic’s sustained work met with success when DHS announced that it would no longer hold families at the Hutto Detention Center. Women asylum seekers continue to be detained at the facility, which is located in nearby Taylor, Texas, and students regularly visit the facility to provide advice and representation to these women immigration detainees.
Some of the clinic’s cases are handled administratively before DHS and involve an interview process while other cases require full trials in the immigration courts, including document submission and witness examination. Some cases involve appellate brief writing and legal argument before the federal and immigration courts. The Immigration Clinic’s faculty and student attorneys also advocate on broader immigration issues and policy before government agencies and international bodies.
Documentary film The Least of These features UT Immigration Clinic’s legal work on behalf of detained families.