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News Posted on August 5, 2013

Immigration Law Clinic Wins Victory for Haitian Deportee

UC Davis School of Law Immigration Law Clinic students and faculty have succeeded in reopening the case of a man who was deported to Haiti as a result of ineffective assistance of counsel.

Holly Cooper, staff attorney for the clinic, met the client in Haiti while she was in that country as part of a humanitarian aid delegation providing legal assistance to earthquake victims. The client, who had been deported from the United States in 1997, served as an interpreter for the aid workers, and asked Cooper if anything could be done to allow him to return to the U.S.

At Cooper's request, Jennifer Wickens '12 looked into the case and managed to uncover tapes of the client's removal hearings.  It was discovered that his attorney erroneously assessed his case and failed to advocate for a form of relief that could have prevented his deportation.  An immigration judge agreed with this assessment, but said that because the client was outside the U.S., he could not reopen the case.  Wickens, Margaret Moody '13, Michael Wu '12, and Jared Wigginton '13 assisted with an appeal to the Bureau of Immigration Affairs. On July 30, the BIA found that it did have jurisdiction to order a new hearing.

"Congrats to the students on this amazing victory for an amazing man," said Cooper. "Now, we have the Herculean task of coordinating our client's return to the United States from Port Au Prince."