Minnesota Law Students Working with Detainee Rights Immigration Clinic Help Secure Withholding of Removal and Obtain the Release of a South Sudanese Client

The James Binger Center for New Americans partners closely with several nonprofit legal services organizations throughout the Twin Cities to provide pro bono legal services to individuals in immigration proceedings. One such partnership involves a Court Observer Program at Minnesota’s Federal Immigration Court in Fort Snelling which is run by the Advocates for Human Rights. In late October 2021, a volunteer Court Observer witnessed a pro se individual struggling in Immigration Court. The Court Observation project referred the case to various partners and the Detainee Rights Clinic responded and agreed to meet with the client.

Professor Linus Chan and student attorney 2L Ryann Freeman traveled to a Minnesota jail to meet with the detainee. Student attorney Freeman ultimately took on the case under Chan’s supervision and began appearing in Immigration Court on behalf of the client. The Department of Homeland Security sought to remove the detainee, a former refugee from Sudan. Freeman argued that removal would endanger their client to persecution and harm.

The case involved various facets, including coordinating with family members who resided in three different states, as well as experts, including Dr. Laura Sloan, a forensic psychiatric fellow working with Dr. Chinmoy Gulrajani, who provided crucial testimony in the case. 2L Sarah Brickson assisted with legal research on the case.

Chan and Freeman’s client was ultimately granted relief from removal and allowed to stay in the United States. Less than a month after the Immigration Judge made the determination, Chan and Freeman worked closely with their client’s family to facilitate her safe release from detention, with the help with another partner, Conversations with Friends, a local non-profit that visits with immigrant detainees and who also help those being released from ICE detention.  The client was reunited with family upon release and will continue to make the transition to freedom and their community. 

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