Human Rights and Immigration
Minnesota Law’s human rights clinic and four immigration clinics work collaboratively with community partners to bring comprehensive and often lifesaving services to families and individuals in need. Law students have the opportunity to tackle a range of complex legal issues, from assisting asylum seekers and working to stop deportation orders to representing noncitizens who have been detained.
The Detainee Rights Clinic is part of the Center for New Americans and will provide students multifaceted opportunities to represent non-citizens facing removal from the United States who are detained at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) facilities in the Twin Cities area.
Students will learn substantive immigration law through the seminar component, with a particular focus on removal defense and immigration detention. Due to the intertwining of criminal and immigration law, or “crimmigration,” students will gain knowledge of Minnesota criminal law and criminal procedure. Students will learn about administrative legal remedies and relief that are available to those facing removal as well as the procedures and mechanisms in place to decide whether a person can remain in the United States. Client counseling, interviewing and investigative skills will be practiced frequently and honed over the course of two semesters. Students will learn how to discover relevant information for a case, procure documentary evidence and conduct effective interviews- all for clients being detained in county jails. Students will have considerable opportunities to work on writing skills such as drafting motions, memos, affidavits and briefs.
In the first semester, students will conduct intake interviews, work on administrative appeals, and represent clients in bond hearings before the Bloomington Immigration Court. During the second semester, students will represent clients in a full “merits” case which is an administrative hearing resembling a mini-trial. Student teams will be expected to take charge on their cases, which will require gathering facts, developing a case strategy, developing a narrative, and making key judgment calls. While there will be abundant supervision by the Detainee Rights Clinic faculty members, student initiative and judgment will be expected. Not only will student teams represent clients at every stage of litigation, from intake to appeal, but will also have many opportunities to work on outreach and advocacy efforts with Center for New American partners on issues that impact detainees, such as access to counsel, pro se representation, conditions of confinement, and mental health competency.
- Weekly status meetings with Prof. Chan and the student director assigned to any particular file are required throughout the entire academic year.
- Attend at least two Legal Orientation Program (LOP) presentations throughout the academic year.
- Attend at least two Detention Project intakes throughout the academic year.
What to expect when working on cases and with clients: Students typically take on a Board of Immigration Appeals case in the first semester, then a more substantive relief from removal case in the second semester. However, other case opportunities often arise and students may have the chance to represent clients in bond proceedings, or even habeas corpus proceedings. Students meet with clients in person, on the phone and correspond with them. Students also represent clients before the Bloomington Immigration Court. Clients in this clinic are individuals who are incarcerated.
The Federal Immigration Litigation Clinic is part of the James H. Binger Center for New Americans and will teach second and third year students to effectively represent clients in federal impact immigration litigation. The clinic lasts a full academic year. Cases may include appellate litigation before the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals, U.S. Supreme Court, and Board of Immigration Appeals, as well as litigation before U.S. District Courts and immigration courts. Cases may deal with asylum and related issues, challenges to the unlawful detention of immigrants, as well as the intersection of immigration and criminal law. Students will also learn about the substance and process of immigration policy making, at both the legislative and administrative levels, and may engage in immigration policy outreach and advocacy projects that advance the Binger Center's priorities for systemic change in immigration law.
Through classroom instruction and case supervision, and working in case teams, students will learn substantive immigration law, administrative and federal rules of procedure, and a broad range of skills important to the effective representation of clients in federal immigration litigation, including: client contact and communication, case management, legal writing and drafting, oral advocacy, courtroom skills, legal ethics, communications and negotiations with opposing counsel, case analysis / vehicle selection, and case strategy / coordination with co-counsel, allies, amici, and media. Interested students can reach out to the clinic's director, Professor Nadia Anguiano-Wehde, or to Professor Seiko Shastri.
Additional Commitments: In addition to the weekly seminar session, students will participate in weekly team meetings with their supervising faculty attorney, at which they will lead case planning and document case progress. Students will be responsible for scheduling and performing all case work on behalf of their clients, outside of team meeting and seminar periods, and in collaboration with other clinic students on their case team.
What to expect when working on cases and with clients: The pace and demands of individual cases will vary according to deadlines set by the courts, and the nature of each case. Students should expect and be prepared to engage in demanding legal research and writing projects.
This clinic provides students with experience in human rights advocacy, which may include litigation in federal or state courts and advocacy before the United Nations, the federal and state legislative and executive branches, and working for nongovernmental organizations.
Students in the Clinic will work on supervised clinical projects and skill-building exercises. The process will facilitate discussion of the pros and cons of various advocacy mechanisms, possible conflicting strategies among different stakeholders, and how particular strategies are chosen and implemented.
The Clinic has a fall weekly class component, and depending on case and project needs, weekly classes may continue in the spring. These classes will include core lawyering skills such as interviewing, counseling, negotiation, legal ethics in practice, and specific human rights subjects such as how to practice before international human rights systems, how to use international law sources in legal arguments before U.S. state and federal courts, working with clients with Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, the effects on attorneys of secondary trauma, the different types of oral advocacy and writing in human rights advocacy and the use of education, outreach and the media in advancing a strategy.
Additional Commitments: For both semesters, students are required to attend weekly meetings with their case teams to discuss client cases.
What to expect when working on cases and with clients: The clinic is designed to expose you to a range of work in a variety of types of human rights work such as litigation in U.S. courts, advocacy before the international human rights system and work with clients, activists, and attorneys in other countries. Students will have the opportunity to focus on particular areas of interest and expand skills in those areas, as well as to build skills in previously unexplored areas.
The Immigration and Human Rights Clinic represents persons seeking asylum in the United States, human trafficking victims and immigrant detainees. This clinic, which is part of the James H. Binger Center for New Americans, provides students with extensive client contact, legal writing, and courtroom advocacy experience. Students receive frequent and detailed feedback on all of their clinic work.
For their representation of clients in asylum cases, students interview and counsel their clients on a regular basis, research conditions in the countries where their clients suffered persecution, write briefs and represent their clients in hearings at U.S. Immigration Court. Depending on the resolution of their case at the trial level, students will write appellate briefs to the Board of Immigration Appeals and the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. For their representation of human trafficking victims, students interview their clients, research the relevant law, interact with government officials who have investigated the trafficking scheme, and prepare applications for visas that permit their clients to remain in the United States. Students also represent immigrant detainees at hearings in Immigration Court to determine if they have defenses to deportation. Students also work on public policy and community outreach projects which bring them into contact with immigrant rights groups at the state and national level. As a result of their work in the clinic, students learn about U.S. immigration law and policy and participate in the Binger Center’s innovative strategies for improving the lives of immigrants through strategic litigation, well-informed public policy, and community outreach and education.
The clinic is a year-long course open to second and third-year students, beginning in the fall semester each year. Enrollment is generally limited to eight students. Please contact Professor Stephen Meili at email@example.com (612-626- 3972) with any questions.
Additional Commitments: Weekly status meetings with Prof. Meili and the student director assigned to any particular case are required throughout the entire academic year. Students are also required to attend the clinic seminar that meets on a weekly basis in the fall semester and on an as-needed basis in the spring.
What to expect when working on cases and with clients: Students will take on an average 2-4 client cases during the year. Some of our clients will be detained in immigrant detention centers in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Translators will be available for those students who do not speak their client’s native language. Many of our clients have suffered extreme forms of persecution, including torture, prolonged solitary confinement, and domestic violence. Students will frequently work with mental health professionals in addressing the psychological impact of such persecution.
Students in the Rural Immigrant Access Clinic will participate in pop-up legal clinics in rural communities that have limited access to immigration attorneys and have experienced dramatic increases in immigration apprehension and detention. These full-day legal clinics will be held in a range of spaces in Minnesota, including community centers, churches, schools and libraries. Students will also conduct comprehensive legal intakes with a rapidly growing detained immigrant population held in rural county jails in Minnesota. Students will complete comprehensive intakes with noncitizens and their families to identify potential avenues for immigration relief. Under the supervision of faculty, students will provide legal advice to clients about their options, make legal and social service referrals, and provide safety planning preparation for noncitizens at risk of deportation including the creation of custodial documents to be utilized in family courts. When confronted with complex immigration problems that require additional research, students will research legal problems and provide written legal advice to immigrant families.