Via Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program

Working under the direction of HIRC’s Managing Attorney Phil Torrey, Crimmigration Clinic students Clarissa Lehne ’18 and Mike Ewart ’18 successfully argued before the Board of Immigration Appeals that their client’s conviction should not result in his detention and deportation.

“It was incredibly rewarding to see a tangible result of the work that we put in at the clinic,” said Lehne.  Echoing her sentiment, Ewart further noted that “so much of law school is theoretical, the opportunity to apply the knowledge we learned in Phil’s Crimmigration class to an actual case was invaluable—and easier said than done.”

The client is a longtime lawful permanent resident who was convicted under a statute that criminalizes a broad range of conduct, including relatively minor conduct.  The Department of Homeland Security argued on appeal at the Board that the immigration judge’s initial determination that the conviction did not trigger removal was wrong.  The Crimmigration Clinic’s response brief demonstrated why the conviction did not categorically match a ground of removal in the immigration statute.

“For me this case underscores the importance of access to counsel in the immigration context (where there is no equivalent to the public defender system). Here, our client had a winning argument, but it was one that would have been extremely difficult to make without legal training and the resources we had at our disposal,” noted Ewart.

After the Board terminated the client’s removal proceedings he was released from immigration detention so that he could be reunited with his family.