Western State College of Law Immigration Clinic

Western State College of Law Immigration Clinic Founded in 2011, the Western State Immigration Clinic is a five-credit, one-semester course that seeks to provide students with hands-on skills training while responding to the pressing needs of immigrants in Orange County.
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Under the supervision of Professor Jennifer Lee Koh, students represent immigrants who cannot otherwise afford legal representation before Citizenship and Immigration Services and in Immigration Court. Each student, along with a partner, serves as the client’s primary representative. Under faculty supervision, they interview the clients, investigate and gather facts, research the relevant law, dra

Under the supervision of Professor Jennifer Lee Koh, students represent immigrants who cannot otherwise afford legal representation before Citizenship and Immigration Services and in Immigration Court. Each student, along with a partner, serves as the client’s primary representative. Under faculty supervision, they interview the clients, investigate and gather facts, research the relevant law, dra

Operating as usual

11/18/2019

The Immigration Clinic at Western State is closed, but our mission to create social justice lawyers lives on! A huge congratulations to all who passed the bar!

And our love goes out to all who took the exam, because pass this time or not, we have seen what you can do and have faith in you!

Thanks to Orange County Bar Association President Deirdre Kelly for highlighting the WSCL Immigration Clinic in this mon...
06/06/2019

Thanks to Orange County Bar Association President Deirdre Kelly for highlighting the WSCL Immigration Clinic in this month’s Orange County Lawyer!

Western State College of Law Immigration Clinic
06/06/2019

Western State College of Law Immigration Clinic

We at the Immigration Clinic are extremely grateful to the following attorneys and organizations that graciously agreed ...
05/17/2019

We at the Immigration Clinic are extremely grateful to the following attorneys and organizations that graciously agreed to provide pro bono representation to Clinic clients during this time of transition at Western State College of Law! Thank you for your expertise and generosity!

Maria Vittoria, Law Office of Angela McGill (pictured)
Leah Jones, Law Offices of Roxana Muro (pictured w/Clinic Director Jennifer Koh)
Eric Dominguez, Hirson & Partners, LLP (pictured)
Prof. Andrew Knapp
Prof. Sabrina Rivera
Monica Glicken, Public Law Center - Immigration Unit
Cynthia Felix, Immigrant Defenders Law Center
Immigration Clinic at USC Gould School of Law

Prof. Jennifer Koh, Western State College of Law Immigration Clinic Director and Founder, will be recognized today by th...
05/14/2019

Prof. Jennifer Koh, Western State College of Law Immigration Clinic Director and Founder, will be recognized today by the City of Irvine City Hall for her leadership with the Western State College of Law Immigration Clinic.

Please join us today at 4:30PM to recognize Prof. Koh for her mentorship and great work she has done over the years! See you all there today!

Western State College of Law Immigration Clinic Director, Prof. Jennifer Lee Koh, is featured in this article by Imm-Pri...
04/18/2019
Borderlines: Women on the Front Lines of Immigration

Western State College of Law Immigration Clinic Director, Prof. Jennifer Lee Koh, is featured in this article by Imm-Print (an online publication of Freedom for Immigrants) for her work with the Orange County Justice Fund as parts of a series on Women on the Frontlines of Immigration:

https://imm-print.com/borderlines-women-on-the-front-lines-of-immigration/

"We see ourselves as part of a broader movement comprised of many allies ... in which immigration detention does not exist, and in which universal representation in immigration court does."

We had our last seminar/ case rounds this week, and reflected on the value of perseverance and resilience. Keep an eye o...
04/18/2019

We had our last seminar/ case rounds this week, and reflected on the value of perseverance and resilience. Keep an eye on these students as they continue in their legal careers!

Congratulations to the 2018-19 Ninth Circuit team—Stephanie Barrera, Demis Camacho and David Lawlor—whose case was prese...
04/12/2019

Congratulations to the 2018-19 Ninth Circuit team—Stephanie Barrera, Demis Camacho and David Lawlor—whose case was presented for oral arguments before the Court of Appeals on Wednesday! Demis and David provided outstanding oral arguments before the 3-judge panel. Professor Andrew Knapp has supervised them all year on a case involving claims under the Violence Against Women Act, Convention Against Torture, asylum law and complex jurisdictional issues. Thank you to the attorneys who mooted the team in preparation for the arguments: Professors Daniel Sharp, Sabrina Rivera and Jennifer Koh, and immigration attorneys Sabrina Damast, Juan Laguna, Maria Vittoria (clinic alum!) and Leah Jones (also a clinic alum!).

The entire oral argument can be viewed here: https://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/media/view_video.php?pk_vid=0000015482

Congratulations to Jim Mikhail and Elizabeth Siruno, whose dedication and hard work in the Clinic resulted in a grant of...
04/05/2019

Congratulations to Jim Mikhail and Elizabeth Siruno, whose dedication and hard work in the Clinic resulted in a grant of asylum to their client this week! Their client has now been freed from detention and will soon be reunited with family members on the East Coast after surviving tremendous persecution. Jim and Elizabeth also provided zealous advocacy to an asylum seeker who has been detained for over 15 months in a bond matter earlier this semester, in a case that is now on appeal at the Board of Immigration Appeals. Thank you Liz and Jim for your fearless lawyering!

We at the Western State College of Law Immigration Clinic are so proud of Stephanie Barrera, who was selected as a Law S...
03/25/2019
Western State College of Law

We at the Western State College of Law Immigration Clinic are so proud of Stephanie Barrera, who was selected as a Law School Student of the year by the National Jurist magazine!

Western State College of Law 3L Stephanie Barrera was featured by the National Jurist magazine as a Law School Student of the Year! Congratulations Stephanie!

"Stephanie Barrera has spent countless hours outside the classroom of Western State University College of Law to help advocate for immigrants’ rights. She has drawn from her own life experiences to represent clients with mental health disabilities, substance abuse issues and trauma resulting from gang violence. She has maintained a position on her law school’s honor roll and several student organizations, all while balancing the responsibilities of a full-time job."

Read more at the full article:

http://www.nationaljurist.com/national-jurist-magazine/law-school-student-year-stephanie-barrera-western-state

The Western State College of Law Immigration Clinic sued Immigration and Customs Enforcement in federal district court t...
03/21/2019
Lawsuit: ICE Withholding Records on Collaboration with Railroad Police | OC Weekly

The Western State College of Law Immigration Clinic sued Immigration and Customs Enforcement in federal district court this week! Thank you to our lawyers at the ACLU of Southern California and Milbank LLP, our co-plaintiffs Immigrant Defenders Law Center, Public Counsel and Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project and the many community organizations who have called for the Union Pacific Railroad Police to end its collaboration with ICE! Our work on this issue began with Spring 2018 Clinic students Luis Bustamante and Jolynn Botrell.

Press release, links to the complaint and some local media coverage are below.

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Lawsuit Filed Against ICE for Not Disclosing Collaboration with Union Pacific Police

LOS ANGELES — The Union Pacific Railroad Police can trace its history back to the mid-1800s when a security force was created to patrol the nation’s emerging railroad network.

But the modern Union Pacific Railroad Police has taken on a new role that has nothing to do with the safety of the railways. Its police officers have formed a shadowy alliance with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to stop, arrest, and detain individuals who are then transferred to ICE facilities for deportation.

These railroad police officer actions — often rooted in racial profiling in violation of constitutional rights — separate families, harm communities, and prey upon people who are homeless. In many cases the individuals arrested by the officers are held beyond the time they otherwise would have been released just so they could be picked up by ICE — a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Today, a broad coalition of community and civil rights organizations issued a letter to the Union Pacific Railroad Police to demand it end its collaboration with ICE. The letter points out that the collaboration causes the exact harm in communities that the California Values Act, which keeps local law enforcement from being recruited by the Trump administration, was enacted to prevent.

The coalition includes the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California, Black Butte Center for Railroad Culture, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, Bend the Arc Jewish Action, Palestinian Youth Movement, and El Centro Cultural de Mexico.

"Union Pacific is in the business of transporting goods and persons safely from place to place. It should not be in the business of subjecting the most vulnerable members of our communities to intimidating interrogations, unlawful detentions, and the threat of deportation," said Sameer Ahmed, ACLU SoCal staff attorney.

The relationship between the railroad police and ICE officials has been shrouded in secrecy. So, also today, the ACLU SoCal filed suit against ICE and the Department of Homeland Security for not fulfilling a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, originally filed in September 2018, seeking information on the collaboration.

The suit was filed on behalf of the Immigrant Defenders Law Center, the Western State College of Law Immigration Clinic, Public Counsel, and the Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project.

"The public has a right to know more about ICE and the Union Pacific Railroad Police's efforts to collude to increase deportations and immigration detention, which harm immigrant communities and undermine public safety," said Jennifer Lee Koh, professor of law and director of the Western State College of Law Immigration Clinic.

Both the letter and lawsuit detail several instances of the Union Pacific Railroad Police collaborating with ICE.

Examples include:

January 2018: A man riding his bicycle home from work along the San Gabriel River Trail in El Monte was stopped by an armed Union Pacific Railroad Police officer and asked if he had "papeles" (papers, in Spanish) to work in the U.S. The man was held there under a railroad bridge for about two hours until he could be picked up by ICE officers.
February 2018: A woman who was homeless was riding her bike in the Van Nuys area outside of Union Pacific Railroad property when she was stopped by an armed railroad police officer. She was held for about two hours until ICE officers arrived and took her into custody. During that time she was never read her rights under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Other incidents detailed in the documents occurred in Santa Ana, North Hollywood, Pacoima, and Whittier.

Read the demand letter here:https://www.aclusocal.org/sites/default/files/aclu_socal_union_pacific_20190320_coalition_letter_uprp.pdf

Read the FOIA lawsuit here:https://www.aclusocal.org/sites/default/files/aclu_socal_union_pacific_20190320_complaint.pdf

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https://ocweekly.com/lawsuit-ice-withholding-records-on-collaboration-with-railroad-police/

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California filed a federal lawsuit today aimed at alleged cooperation between Union Pacific Railroad Police (UPRP) and Immigration and Customs…

03/21/2019

Our students Jessica Olivares and Jenny Corona share some of their thoughts on the immigration clinic and immigration system after successfully negotiating a bond for the release of their client from detention today! Congratulations!

03/19/2019

The smiles on our students’ faces and their exuberant joy after their client's grant of asylum are just priceless! Congratulations to Giovanni Falcon and Catherine Ramos on your hard work and fearless advocacy! We can’t wait to see our client released tonight!

03/16/2019

Congratulations to Brittany Perez and Marina Awed, who represented their client in an asylum hearing in immigration court today! Their client fled his country after being harmed and threatened for organizing peaceful protests. He has spent the last several months detained at an immigration jail in Orange County, but will be released tonight! Here’s their reaction after leaving the courtroom.

Stanford Law Review
03/13/2019
Stanford Law Review

Stanford Law Review

Check out our online symposium Immigration Beyond the Headlines! The symposium aims to provide key insights on the ways in which immigration law is quietly changing—and how activists, policymakers, lawyers, scholars, and judges should respond. Essays by Stanford Law's Jayashri Srikantiah and Shirin Sinnar, Santa Clara Law's Pratheepan Gulasekaram and Washburn University School of Law's David S. Rubenstein, International Refugee Assistance Project's Mariko Hirose, Western State College of Law's Jennifer Lee Koh, USC Gould School of Law's Emily Ryo, UC Davis School of Law's Shayak Sarkar, and University of Arkansas School of Law and UC Berkeley School of Law's Khaled Beydoun: https://www.stanfordlawreview.org/immigration-beyond-the-headlines/

03/12/2019

2L Jennifer Corona, who received a 2018 Wally Davis Scholarship from the OC Hispanic Bar Association, wrote the reflection below on lawyering, resilience and hardship as part of her Clinic journal, and has agreed to share it here:

"I am very thankful for what the clinic has offered me this semester: the tenacity to advocate for my clients above all, the ability to feel both pain and rage for the conditions my clients have to live day-to-day, the feeling that I am supported by my peers in this work, the skill of backwards planning that is key to ensure deadlines are met and that my partner and I are effectively/ sufficiently prepared, and the very gratifying feeling that there is a worthy purpose to my work.

Besides all these gratifying feelings of being supported and that my work actually means something, my peers and I have all found ourselves at a fork in the road given the current status of our law school. For the first 4 weeks of the spring semester, I pushed the receivership issue aside so that I could focus on doing well academically. However, after a significant number of support staff was suddenly fired in early February I found myself numb. What I had subconsciously been denying was no longer avoidable and I found myself in a state of shock. I wanted someone to fix this ASAP, I wanted to blame someone for what had happened to our school, I questioned who could be so heartless and choose to take advantage of defenseless students for the sake of their checkbooks, I wondered whether all the work that I had put into law school up until now was worth it, and I questioned whether I was ever going to become the attorney that I had always dreamed of and am so close to becoming. I still wonder all this, and the thoughts end up making me feel broken inside.

I feel like I have always taken the appropriate steps. I learned English when I was in elementary school in order to get placed in classes with the “smart kids” (most of which did not share my brown skin). In middle school, I read more books than I could check out in order to get my name on a plaque that honored the school’s top readers over the last 40 years. I did not enjoy the typical teen experiences of going out with friends and going to parties because I knew that education was mine and my family’s ticket out of poverty. This dedication made me valedictorian and granted me a full-ride scholarship to UC Berkeley. This affirmed to me that all my hard work was worth it. The experiences I had been deprived of until that point had been for a greater something. Right now however, I ask myself: what did I do to deserve this? Where did I go wrong? Will I be able to face my family about this?

I supposed you could say that I have done everything by the books: followed the necessary steps in order to become the first attorney in my entire family, for this reasons my degree means so much more than the completion of a Juris Doctor. I think about my family; my dad working 7 days a week, my mother cleaning other people’s homes and taking care of other children in order to bring a little extra money home for her own kids, and I think of my grandparents in Mexico who are so proud of me. I feel as if I am letting all of them down. I feel impotent, I feel ashamed, and I feel extremely hopeless.

Throughout this chaos, the immigration clinic has helped me maintain some type of sanity. I can tell how much our professors feel for us, they are equally angry and discouraged. Our little immigration family—as I have come to feel towards my colleagues—have all been readily available to offer hugs, offer meals, offer words of apoyo (support), and reassurance that everything is going to be ok in the end. I choose to believe this, because being negative will only drive me crazier.

I choose to focus on how I am preparing on becoming the best attorney that I can be, given the circumstances that I have been dealt, I choose to think of my clients every single day. The clients have provided me with an incessant sense of purpose. Additionally, the demographic of people that we work with hits very close to home, since the entire generation of my family before me are immigrants. Many of my aunts and uncles have moved back to Mexico because of the stringent immigration policies and practices here in the United States.

The people that I have met in the last two months have shown me the power of faith and will power. Speaking to L and C, hearing their stories, feeling the pain of being separated from their families, has been eye-opening. At times, I have felt guilty for my privilege. I wondered: why was I able to attend college and my clients could not? Why was I able to watch the Super Bowl in the comfort of my own home in the company of my family, when L had to watch it in the cold prison, in a language he did not understand surrounded by people that are strangers to him? I have grown to be appreciative of the little things through the insightful conversations with my clients.

I think that the tendency is to believe that lawyers have the answers. However, I have learned so much from my client’s faith—recently L shared with me that he had found peace because God had a greater plan for him, that if it was meant for him to be released from prison that would happen, and if not then he was ok with that. I have also gained perspectives into what really matters. For example, this past week, L shared with me that if he were to not get out on bond that he would much rather ask for voluntary departure, because being away from his loved ones was the hardest thing he had ever experienced. L said that he just wanted to get out in order to video-chat with his two young sons. I was shocked and wanted to discourage this, but who am I to say what is best for him? This is a constant struggle in this profession because most of us do not know first-hand the struggles of our clients.

Like my clients, I think what I am facing right now is a test of my ambition and I have to mirror the tenacity and will power that my clients have shown me they are capable of. This is a time in which I have to practice what I preach and really internalize that this is not the end and that I have to keep pushing, even when it seems easier to give up."

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1 Banting
Irvine, CA
92618

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