Please join me in congratulating the students, faculty and staff of the Mills Legal Clinic’s Immigrants’ Rights Clinic (“IRC”) on an important victory last week in the Ninth Circuit. The IRC represents Amadou Diouf, an immigrant subjected to prolonged detention while trying to reopen his immigration case. Mr. Diouf is a noncitizen from Senegal who entered the U.S. on a student visa. He subsequently married a U.S. citizen, but his immigration lawyer failed to file proper papers in immigration court, resulting in an order of deportation against Mr. Diouf. Mr. Diouf subsequently filed a motion to reopen his immigration case, arguing ineffective assistance of counsel.
While he fought his immigration case, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) put Mr. Diouf into immigration detention. He remained in detention for well over a year, until the Clinic, along with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project and the ACLU of Southern California, filed a habeas petition on his behalf. The case eventually made its way to the Ninth Circuit, which reasoned on March 7 that prolonged detention of individuals like Mr. Diouf raises grave constitutional problems. In its decision, the Court held that 8 U.S.C. 1231(a)(6), the statute under which Mr. Diouf was detained, requires DHS to provide a bond hearing after 180 days of detention, at which the government bears the burden of proving that the detainee poses a sufficient danger or flight risk to justify continued detention.
Professor Jayashri Srikantiah and the students in the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic have worked on behalf of IRC clients to challenge the prolonged detention of immigrants for several years, in a broad range of cases. Several students contributed to the prolonged detention project over the years, including Michael Kaufman, Mark Baller, Kimere Kimball, Erin Mohan, and Eli Miller.
Students in the IRC are supervised by Professor Jayashri Srikantiah and Anna Welch, Cooley Godward Kronish Clinical Teaching Fellow. The Clinic also relies on the excellent work of Octavio Gonzelez, legal assistant.