Wednesday, July 22, 2015

UC Davis Immigration Law Clinic Responds to Need for Representation of Unaccompanied Minors

In 2014, thousands of unaccompanied minors (UUMs) crossed the border into the U.S. after fleeing their home countries.  These young people continue to arrive in the U.S. every day.  Many of these children are placed into removal proceedings where they are at risk of being returned to the very place they fled. The U.C. Davis Immigration Law Clinic responded to the need to bring immigration relief to this vulnerable population by hiring and supervising several recent graduates providing legal assistance to UUMs in the Central Valley and other underserved areas.  Continuing the work the 2014-2015 UUM fellows began, Rachel Ray ‘11, has expanded the initial work of the clinic as its new UUM Staff Attorney. 

Each of Ray’s young clients fled his or her home country, arrived to the United States without his or her parents, was detained by immigration enforcement, released to a family member or friend, and is now in removal proceedings.  One such client is a teenager from Honduras who elected to leave the only home she had ever known after her brother was brutally murdered.  Pregnant at the time, she had no choice but to risk crossing two countries in order to live safely with her mother in California.  She fears that, if she were to return to Honduras, the same people who murdered her brother will kill, kidnap, or otherwise harm her and her unborn child.  With Ray’s help, this young woman will seek asylum.   

Each of Ray’s cases is uniquely compelling, and each client desperately wants to stay where they feel safe: in the United States with his or her caregivers.  Ray works with her clients to terminate their removal proceedings by seeking asylum, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, U visas, or other relief.  Beginning in September 2015, a 2015 UC Davis School of Law graduate will join Ray and begin their legal career as a UUM fellow and take on an additional caseload under Ray’s supervision. 


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