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News Posted on July 6, 2017

Immigration Clinic Wins Published Decision in Ninth Circuit, Draws National Media Coverage

In a significant victory for the rights of detained immigrant children, the UC Davis School of Law Immigration Law Clinic won a published decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In an opinion by Judge Stephen Reinhardt, the Ninth Circuit held that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement must enforce the “Flores Agreement,” which guarantees detained noncitizen children the right to a bond determination hearing. The story drew extensive coverage from media including The Atlantic, the New York Times, the Associated Press, Politico, Sacramento Bee, KQED, The Hill, and Univision.

The decision came as a result of a two-year effort in which the Immigration Law Clinic acted as co-counsel on behalf of a detained immigrant minor. Together with Carlos Hoguin of the Center for Human and Constitutional Rights, who was the lead counsel in the Flores Agreement, Professor Holly Cooper, Co-director of the Immigration Law Clinic, and clinic students contested the government’s position, which held that the agreement was abrogated by Congress and that no custody hearing for their client was necessary. A motion to enforce was filed and upheld by a district court, but the government filed an emergency order to stay that ruling and appealed to the Ninth Circuit, which ruled in favor of the clinic’s client on July 5.

“In our country, one of the foundational concepts we have is one of checks and balances and when it comes to liberty, those checks and balances are imperative for the individual's freedom,” Professor Cooper told The Atlantic.

"If you don't give kids transparency and a clear finite date when their detention will end you see all kinds of psychological effects," Cooper commented for the Associated Press.

Under the leadership of Cooper and Holguin, numerous King Hall students and alumni made important contributions to the case, including Hope Alley ’16, Aldo Martinez Gomez ’17, Nora Pasin ’16, Fabian Sanchez Coronado ’18, Eduardo Osorio ’18, and Mike Benassini ’18.   

Professor Camille Pannu, Director of the Water Justice Clinic at UC Davis School of Law, Professor Carter “Cappy” White, Supervising Attorney of the UC Davis School of Law's Civil Rights Clinic, Professor Brian Soucek, and Dean Kevin R. Johnson also provided critical advice and input. Morrison Foerster, the ACLU, and Kramer Levin also provided indispensable amicus support in the case.