Assistant Dean for External Relations Lisa Brabbit signs diplomas after The Swearing in Ceremony of School of Law Clinical Law Students in The Frey Moot Courtroom. Taken August 24, 2007.

Immigration Clinic Secures Sweeping Victory for Detained Client, Keeping Family Together

Clinical students from the University of St. Thomas School of Law Immigration Appellate Clinic secured a sweeping victory for their detained immigrant client this week, preserving the unity of his family.

St. Thomas law students Bianca Del Vescio, Alexandria Hare, Jeffrey Maleska and Chelsea Barr went to work in August on a case before the Board of Immigration Appeals. On Dec. 8, they learned the appeal had been granted.

The case involved a form of immigration relief called "Cancellation of Removal" for persons who have lived in the United States in undocumented legal status for many years but are facing deportation. If they are able to prove their presence in the U.S. for over 10 years and that close family members would face a high level of hardship in their absence, a judge can grant them a green card based on a balancing of equities.

Clinic Professor Elizabeth Holmes noted her amazement at the case’s success because of how unusual it was. The case drew review by a three-judge panel, a rare occurrence at the Board of Immigration Appeals. Further, rather than remanding the case for a decision on the merits based on the Board's advice, the review panel granted relief unequivocally. The court weighed the positive and negative factors to find for the appellant, despite a criminal record.

When the clinic took the case, the client was ready to give up and forego the appeal. In sharing the good news of the appeal with her students, Holmes said, "You all have changed many lives with your work on this case. Not only have you changed the life of our client, who you will remember was almost ready to end his legal struggle when we met him, but also the lives of his wife and young daughter.”