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American Bar Association Annual Meeting in Chicago

Posted By Kevin R. Johnson, Aug 3, 2015

I recently returned from the American Bar Association’s annual meeting, held this year in Chicago, where the summer weather and city were simply splendid.  You would have never know from the weather that Chicago is known as the "Windy City"!  

Chicago River
I took this shot of the Chicago River. Beautiful scenery and weather!

I was able to catch up over dinner with a former civil procedure student, Michelle Dohra, who now is a high powered lawyer at Mayer Brown in Chicago.  A native to the area, Michelle returned to Chicago to practice law after excelling as a student at King Hall.  At the convention, I participated in a panel discussion on the 50th anniversary of the Immigration Act of 1965, a major immigration reform bill that greatly influenced the modern demographics of immigration.   Other panelists included Tom Saenz, President and General Counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), King Hall Professor Emeritus Bill Ong Hing, Cheryl Little (Americans for Immigrant Justice), and Ediberto Roman (Florida International University). The panel was sponsored by the American Bar Association Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities.  We had an inspired discussion with a great audience.  With immigration a hot topic because of current events in the news (including Donald Trump's recent remarks), the folks in the audience had some great comment, questions, and insights.

A Visit with Justice Richard Sims

Posted By Kevin R. Johnson, Jul 27, 2015

For more than the last ten years, I have had the opportunity to work with Legal Services of Northern California, which provides legal services to many poor and working families from Vallejo up to our state’s border with Oregon.  Many UC Davis School of Law students work for LSNC.

This last weekend, retired California Court of Appeal Justice Richard Sims, a member of the LSNC board, invited LSNC Executive Director Gary Smith (who also teaches a class at the Law School), John Davis (Treasurer of the Board and volunteer attorney), and me, along with our partners, to lunch at his home in the Sierra foothills.  Justice Sims lives in Dutch Flat, a small community in the Sierra foothills (about 10 miles from Colfax) originally established by German miners in the Gold Rush era. It was a lovely setting on a pleasant summer day for this group of LSNC supporters to get together.

All of us had to depart abruptly, however, as a fire, which later spread, appeared on the horizon.  It really was quite a sight. Fortunately, Justice Sims house was far enough away to avoid the fire.  

UC Davis Immigration Law Clinic Responds to Need for Representation of Unaccompanied Minors

Posted By Kevin R. Johnson, Jul 22, 2015

Cross-posted from Immigration Prof Blog.

In 2014, thousands of unaccompanied minors (UUMs) crossed the border into the U.S. after fleeing their home countries.  These young people continue to arrive in the U.S. every day.  Many of these children are placed into removal proceedings where they are at risk of being returned to the very place they fled. The UC Davis Immigration Law Clinic responded to the need to bring immigration relief to this vulnerable population by hiring and supervising several recent graduates providing legal assistance to UUMs in the Central Valley and other underserved areas.  Continuing the work the 2014-2015 UUM fellows began, Rachel Ray ‘11, has expanded the initial work of the clinic as its new UUM Staff Attorney. 

Each of Ray’s young clients fled his or her home country, arrived to the United States without his or her parents, was detained by immigration enforcement, released to a family member or friend, and is now in removal proceedings.  One such client is a teenager from Honduras who elected to leave the only home she had ever known after her brother was brutally murdered.  Pregnant at the time, she had no choice but to risk crossing two countries in order to live safely with her mother in California.  She fears that, if she were to return to Honduras, the same people who murdered her brother will kill, kidnap, or otherwise harm her and her unborn child.  With Ray’s help, this young woman will seek asylum.   

Each of Ray’s cases is uniquely compelling, and each client desperately wants to stay where they feel safe: in the United States with his or her caregivers.  Ray works with her clients to terminate their removal proceedings by seeking asylum, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, U visas, or other relief.  Beginning in September 2015, a 2015 UC Davis School of Law graduate will join Ray and begin their legal career as a UUM fellow and take on an additional caseload under Ray’s supervision.