Prof. Linus Chan Named a ‘Minnesota Lawyer’ Attorney of the Year

Professor Linus Chan, who teaches the Detainee Rights Clinic in the Law School’s James H. Binger Center for New Americans, has been selected by Minnesota Lawyer magazine as one of its 2017 Attorneys of the Year. Chan was honored in the “Partners” category, along with Twin Cities attorney Mai Neng Moua. The two were nominated by the Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association (MNAPABA) for their work on the “Minnesota Eight” case.

An article in the New Yorker succinctly outlines the case: “The Minnesota Eight are a group of Cambodian men in their 30s and 40s … [who] each came to the U.S. legally as a child refugee in the 1980s but later lost his green card after being convicted of a crime. By law, legal permanent residents are automatically deportable if they’ve committed an aggravated felony, and thousands of people every year are deported after completing prison terms. But when these men got out of prison they found themselves in a strange situation. Because of a long-standing diplomatic dispute between the U.S. and Cambodia, they were released rather than deported. Several of them got married and started families; they took jobs, and settled down. Twice a year, they were required to check in at their local Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office, in St. Paul, Minn., but after a few years these visits became routine. Then, [in August 2016], when they each showed up for their appointments with ICE, they were abruptly rearrested, and informed that their deportations were back on schedule.”

According to the MNAPABA, the families of the Minnesota Eight—most of whom have never been to Cambodia and consider the United States their only home—have launched an aggressive public advocacy campaign on their behalf, meeting with elected officials and raising funds to legally fight the deportation orders. Chan and Moua, both with deep experience in immigration law, have been instrumental in that effort. Two of the Minnesota Eight, represented by Moua, have had their deportation orders overturned; Chan and his students in the Detainee Rights Clinic were successful in obtaining the release of a third man.

“The work of Professor Chan and his students to secure justice in this very complex case is impressive and inspiring,” said Dean Garry W. Jenkins. “It’s also an exemplary illustration of the mission of the James H. Binger Center for New Americans and of its value to our community. We congratulate Linus on both his advocacy and his dedication to involving his students in work of such consequence.”

Chan and Moua will receive their awards at Minnesota Lawyer’s 18th annual Attorneys of the Year reception, to be held Feb. 7 at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Minneapolis.

Linus Chan
Associate Clinical Professor of Law
Vaughan G. Papke Research Scholar