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Wonderful Work by Immigrants’ Rights Clinic Students

Immigrants’ Rights Clinic client, J.M., came to the United States when he was just seven years old after surviving sexual abuse and other trauma in Guatemala. Despite his status as a United States lawful permanent resident (“green card” holder), J.M. faced deportation to Guatemala due to a use/under the influence of a controlled substance conviction. For years, J.M. has suffered from a severe mental illness, which until recently went undiagnosed and which led him to use drugs and alcohol as a form of self-medication.  In August 2010,  J.M. was placed in immigration detention where he remained for approximately six months.  

Yesterday, the Immigration Judge granted J.M.’s request to remain in the United States. The victory built on the extraordinary work of IRC students Rob Szykowny (’12) and Katie Traverso (’12) who worked tirelessly during the Fall 2010 quarter to develop J.M.’s case: interviewing fact and expert witnesses; conducting extensive legal research on whether the government had met its burden in establishing that J.M. was deportable; and arguing in Court that J.M. was not deportable.   During the Winter quarter, Jessica Spradling (’11) drafted a legal brief arguing that the Immigration Judge should evaluate J.M.’s family ties, mental illness and other sympathetic factors in his life to allow him to remain in the country.  

Immigrants’ Rights Clinic Director and Professor Jayashri Srikantiah and Cooley Godward Kronish Teaching Fellow, Anna Welch, supervised the students’ work.  Octavio Gonzalez provided excellent interpreting and other assistance.  Special thanks to Lisa Douglass, Director of our Social Security Disability Project, for her help with connecting our client to much-needed psychiatric treatment.

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