Monday, July 31, 2017
The Immigration Law Clinic, which is directed by Professors Cooper and Amagda Perez, was one of the first of its kind in the United States. Given its proximity to the Central Valley, California’s agricultural center, the Clinic is in a unique position to serve the state’s large community of both documented and undocumented immigrants. Over the years, the Clinic has represented people from all over the world, including Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, and Eastern Europe.
The Clinic is one of the only clinics in the nation devoted to representing detained immigrants before the immigration court — challenging conditions of confinement and contesting their confinement in federal court. Moreover, the Clinic emphasizes the critical intersection between immigration and criminal law, and the need to challenge unlawful and prolonged detention to ensure the rights of criminal immigrant defendants. The Clinic stands alone in its statewide role providing critical advice to public defenders about the potential immigration consequences facing immigrant defendants.
Students interview clients and witnesses, conduct factual investigations, draft pleadings and motions, prepare legal briefs, prepare witnesses for direct and cross examination, and represent immigrants at hearings at the immigration court. Under the guidance of supervising attorneys, students research and develop legal arguments, collect facts, write trial briefs, and prepare clients and witnesses. The students also prepare federal court challenges to conditions of confinement and custody and represent clients before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit with cutting-edge appellate representation.
The Clinic also engages the community in "know your rights" and naturalization workshops as well as other community-focused programs. The Clinic has close relationship with California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation. Rooted in the farm worker movement of the 1960s led by César Chavez, California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation is a privately funded rural justice center focused on serving farm workers and low-wage rural workers, regardless of their immigration status.
Immigration Law Clinic students consistently receive exceptional feedback from the immigration court regarding the high quality of their pre-hearing briefs and presentation of cases. As one immigration judge told students after granting political asylum to their client, a victim of domestic violence and torture, “Today you have saved a life.”