Since 1979, the Immigration Law Section of the Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice has represented non-citizens in a variety of issues before the U.S. Department of Justice Immigration Courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals as well as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”). For example, we represent people who were persecuted or tortured or have a future fear of persecution or torture in their home country in their quest for political asylum, withholding of removal under INA §241(b) (alternative form of humanitarian relief to asylum with a higher burden of proof), and relief under the United Nations Convention Against Torture. We also assist people who are victims of crimes and/or domestic violence, and unaccompanied minors who were abused, neglected or abandoned by their natural parents to obtain immigration relief. We have litigated habeas corpus cases in the federal courts for people who are sentenced to an indefinite detention for their immigration violation, and those who were being sent to Somalia, a country in the perpetual state of civil strife with no central government.
Currently, Immigration Law Section is representing political asylum seekers from Iraq, El Salvador and Peru, long-term lawful permanent residents from Vietnam, a U.S. citizen with Mexican descent, and an unaccompanied minor from Honduras. We are working with law enforcement agencies in St. Tammany and Orleans Parishes to assist crime victims to obtain immigration relief. We also represent over 50 workers, mostly working parents with small children, who were arrested, interrogated and placed in removal proceedings by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an enforcement agency of the DHS, as a result of the worksite raid it conducted in, Mississippi last August, which netted close to 600 workers.
In addition to direct client representation, the Immigration Law Section conducts a monthly “Know Your Rights” immigration legal orientation program for indigent pro se detainees at Tensas Parish Detention Center in Waterproof, Louisiana. It is believed that there are close to 4,000 noncitizens currently detained in several remotely located detention centers in Louisiana. As immigrants are not entitled to appointed counsel, almost 80 percent of the detainees are required to defend themselves in the adversarial immigration court system. Therefore, this program serves the only opportunity that many detainees have to educate themselves about U.S. immigration law and the immigration court system.