Immigrants' Rights Clinic Wins Cases for Individuals Facing Deportation

In Four Separate Cases and Led by Professor Elora Mukherjee, Clinic Secures Victories for Two Nigerian Men, A Mother and Child, and a Woman Targeted for Protesting Police Violence in Honduras

New York, June 22, 2015—Columbia Law School Professor Elora Mukherjee and students in the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic have won four recent cases for detained individuals facing deportation, pulling together vast amounts of evidence in short periods of time to prove their clients’ claims.

The clinic secured asylum for two bisexual Nigerian men persecuted for their sexuality and Christian faith, and rulings withholding deportation—a finding that requires a higher standard of evidence—for Suny, a Honduran woman targeted in her country for protesting police corruption and Bilma, another Honduran woman who survived intimate partner violence. Mukherjee also won asylum for Bilma’s 6-year-old daughter, Alison, and is currently representing Angelo, Suny’s 8-year-old son.

Professor Elora Mukherjee and students won asylum for 6-year-old Alison and a ruling withholding deportation for Alison's mother Bilma, who had been detained at the country's largest family detention center in Dilley, Texas.

The cases show the clinic’s nationwide impact: The Nigerian men were detained at the Elizabeth Detention Center in New Jersey; the women were held with their children at the country’s largest family detention center in Dilley, Texas. Under Mukherjee’s leadership, the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, which launched last fall, has been at the forefront of efforts to provide representation to individuals in both facilities. Mukherjee and her students were the first advocates to provide pro bono counsel to immigrants in Dilley.

In each of the recent cases, the clinic compiled relevant evidence from their clients’ countries, friends, and family members. For the Honduran domestic violence survivor, Mukherjee submitted country condition reports about femicide and a local hospital record confirming a miscarriage. In the case of the woman who protested police corruption in Honduras, the clinic tracked down a death certificate for the client’s mother who was murdered after speaking out against the police. And for the Nigerians, the clinic submitted medical evaluations and evidence of anti-Christian and anti-LGBT violence and laws in that country.
In addition to representing adult asylum seekers in New Jersey and women and children detained in Dilley, Texas, the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic also has successfully handled cases on behalf of unaccompanied and undocumented immigrant youth who entered the U.S. without an adult relative. Through an intensive learning and working environment, the clinic offers students an opportunity to develop lawyering and advocacy skills in the context of both direct client representation and cutting edge projects related to immigration reform.