Immigrant Justice Clinic

Video features students from 2011-12 academic year

About the Immigrant Justice Clinic

The Immigrant Justice Clinic (IJC) provides representation on a broad range of cases and projects involving individual immigrants and migrants, and their communities, both in the D.C. metropolitan area and overseas.  Students Attorneys in the IJC regularly appear in Immigration Court, and may also appear before federal district court, the courts of Maryland and D.C., and before federal and state agencies.  Since migration has a transnational dimension, the IJC occasionally advocates before regional and international bodies.                                   

The matters handled by the IJC allow students to develop core lawyering skills, such as interviewing, counseling, negotiation, and trial advocacy, while cultivating complementary skills in the areas of policy and legislative advocacy, community organizing, and working with the media.

During the 2013-2014 school year, IJC will be offered as a full-year clinic.

Areas of Focus

The Immigrant Justice Clinic focuses its work on four broad substantive areas: (1) immigrant deportation defense and immigration detention; (2) immigrant workers' rights; (3) civil rights for immigrants; and (4) immigration, gender, and sexual orientation.

Immigration Deportation Defense & Immigration Detention

  • Representation of immigrants in removal proceedings, with a focus on detained immigrants and those with criminal records.  These cases involve different forms of relief, including cancellation of removal, refugee waivers, asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the UN Convention Against Torture.
  • Representation of detained immigrants with final orders of removal who are being held indefinitely in government custody.
  • Monitoring of immigration detention conditions and advocacy around specific detention issues.

Immigrant Workers' Rights

  • Representation of vulnerable workers, including day laborers and domestic workers, in recovering unpaid wages for work performed.
  • Representation of immigrant victims of labor trafficking in applying for immigration relief (specifically, T visas) and pursuing related civil claims.
  • Representation of immigrants who have experienced discrimination in the workplace on the basis of national origin and other grounds.
  • Representation of H-2B guest workers on a range of employment law claims, and partnerships with non-profit organizations to advance the interests of H-2B guest workers.

Civil Rights for Immigrants

  • Advocacy for enhanced language access protections for Limited English Proficient (LEP) persons in the metropolitan area, and full enforcement of existing protections.
  • Representation of immigrants who have been subjected to racial profiling by federal, state, or local government officials.
  • Work on other emerging civil rights issues for the local immigrant community.

Immigration, Gender & Sexual Orientation

  • Representation of immigrant crime survivors in seeking immigration relief, including Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) petitions, T visas, U visas, asylum, and more.
  • Representation of immigrants on cutting-edge asylum claims based on gender and sexual orientation.

Case Selection Process

In deciding which cases to accept, the IJC faculty place central importance on two factors: (1) identifying cases that will maximize the students' learning experience and skills development, and will further their professional goals; and (2) providing added-value to the landscape of local legal service providers, by taking on cases that are not easily absorbed by other organizations.  In addition, the IJC seeks to ensure that its docket reflects the full diversity of the local immigrant community.  The IJC faculty solicit input from incoming clinic students, and consult with current students when vacancies in the docket arise.

The Immigrant Justice Clinic receives most of its cases by referral from local and national non-profit organizations.                                                                                

Recent Victories

Some recent victories and accomplishments in the IJC include the following:

  • Obtaining Cancellation of Removal for a long-term permanent resident from El Salvador, who had been detained due to a string of alcohol-related offenses.
  • Obtaining asylum for a young man from El Salvador on the basis of sexual orientation, and successfully overcoming the one-year bar to asylum.
  • Publishing a thorough guide for advocates to help them ensure that their Mexican clients receive unpaid wages, monetary damages, or other funds that are owed to them. The guide, entitled Money Transfers to Mexico: A Manual Examining the Transfer of Funds from U.S. Advocates to Clients in Mexico, was prepared in collaboration with Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc. and Global Workers Justice Alliance.
  • Obtaining a waiver of inadmissibility and adjustment of status for a refugee from Burundi, who had been detained for nearly a year due to a criminal conviction.
  • Publishing a comprehensive report on government compliance with the D.C. Language Access Act of 2004. The report, entitled Access Denied: The Unfulfilled Promise of the D.C. Language Access Act was prepared in collaboration with the D.C. Language Access Coalition.
  • Obtaining Cancellation of Removal for a long-term permanent resident from Jamaica, who had been detained due to relatively minor criminal offenses.
  • Obtaining U visas for the wife and son of an immigrant homicide victim.
  • Obtaining Special Rule Cancellation of Removal under the Nicaraguan and Central American Refugee Act (NACARA) for a client from El Salvador.
  • Obtaining prosecutorial discretion and administrative closure to an immigrant youth who had been placed in removal proceedings.
  • Obtaining Cancellation of Removal for a Lawful Permanent Resident from Kenya, who had been detained in Maryland, and placed in removal proceedings after a series of minor criminal convictions.
  • Obtaining the release, via a petition for habeas corpus, of a national from India who was detained, had a final order of removal, could not be removed, and was in indefinite immigration detention.
  • Obtaining Cancellation of Removal for a long-term Lawful Permanent Resident from El Salvador, who had been detained in Virginia, and placed in removal proceedings after being convicted of two minor theft offenses.
  • Obtaining Withholding of Removal for a former refugee from Sudan who had been placed in removal proceedings after a series of minor criminal offenses.
  • Obtaining T visas for several former domestic employees of foreign diplomats, who had been trafficked into the U.S. and forced to live and work under exploitative conditions.
  • Publishing a groundbreaking report on the experiences of female migrant workers in Maryland.  The report, based on first-hand research conducted by Clinic students, is entitled Picked Apart: The Hidden Struggles of Migrant Worker Women in the Maryland Crab Industry.
  • Obtaining a federal district court judgment of over $40,000 against two Ecuadorian diplomats for wages owed to their former domestic worker.
  • Filing a charge before the National Labor Relations Board on behalf of a group of immigrant workers who were unjustly terminated for engaging in protected activity.  The Clinic successfully negotiated a settlement of $75,000 on behalf of the workers.
  • Obtaining T-visas and restitution for two Korean immigrant victims of labor trafficking.
  • Filing a claim in federal district court on behalf of a cleaning company employee who was terminated from her position because of language discrimination.  The Clinic successfully negotiated a settlement on behalf of the client.
  • Filing comments with the UN Committee on Migrant Workers with regard to Mexico's compliance with the Convention on Migrant Workers.
  • Testifying before the D.C. City Council – and advocating before a range of D.C. government agencies – about compliance with the D.C. Language Access Act of 2004.
  • Filing a complaint in federal district court on behalf of an immigrant worker who was unjustly apprehended in an Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid in Baltimore, Maryland.
  • Obtaining asylum for a transgender woman from Guatemala, and successfully overcoming the one-year bar to asylum.
  • Obtaining interim relief under VAWA for an immigrant man who was subjected to extreme cruelty by his U.S. citizen spouse.

IJC in the News