Yolanda Mendoza leaning on study table in library

Yolanda Marcela Mendoza JD'15 was part of a team of Suffolk Law students in the Immigration Clinic who successfully persuaded an appellate panel to release a 41-year-old Jamaican citizen who was about to be deported.

According to a recent study, represented detained immigrants are 6 times more likely to have a successful outcome in removal proceedings than an unrepresented detained non-citizen yet 60% of detained immigrants are not represented by counsel in their deportation case.

The Immigration Clinic seeks to meet the greatest needs for immigrant representation currently present in the local community such as removal defense and asylum intake. Students will represent low income non-citizens facing deportation from the United States with a primary focus on individuals detained by Immigration Customs and Enforcement (“ICE”). Students will also represent youths and other vulnerable populations seeking lawful status. Individual representation includes appearing before the Immigration Court in Boston to argue for bond, exam witnesses, challenge removability and litigate applications for relief. Students will also prepare and file complex immigration applications with US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Such representation requires in-depth fact development, client interviewing, legal research and writing, witness preparation, and oral advocacy. Types of cases vary but usually include political asylum, Convention Against Torture claims, cancellation of removal, and adjustment of status. Additionally, students will regularly interview asylum seekers and conduct Know Your Rights presentations in an immigration detention facility. Students may also work on a range of legislative and advocacy projects that will include collaborations with nationally recognized co-counsel, community organizations and the media.

The Clinic includes a two-hour per week seminar. The class will focus on preparation for direct client representation before the Immigration Court and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services with a heavy emphasis on the Immigration and Nationality Act, its accompanying regulations and interpretive case law and agency memoranda. Students will also work on developing effective lawyering skills and an individual professional identity in the class.

This course requires a significant time commitment. In order to prepare for the rigorous advocacy these cases require, students will participate in intensive training sessions first semester. As detained cases move fast through the court system, students will conduct intakes, interview and counsel clients, prepare motions and complex applications, and litigate cases usually before the Immigration Court by the end of first semester. Thus, the time commitment for first semester is substantial and it is recommended that students take an otherwise light load.

In addition to time allotted for class each week, students must be available on Wednesday mornings from 8:30 am – 11:50 am for visits to the Suffolk County House of Corrections at South Bay or to conduct an asylum intake in the Clinical Offices. For both intake projects, the Immigration Clinic collaborates with the Political Asylum/Immigration Representation Project (PAIR) Project. Every student will not visit the jail or interview an asylum seeker every week but Wednesday mornings will nonetheless be used for other activities in the Clinic, particularly first semester. Each student will also need to set aside an hour a week for supervision with the Clinic Professor, days and times to be determined.

This is a full-year clinic offered for 10 credits (5 credits/semester) and students will receive separate letter grade at the end of the academic year for the clinic work and seminar.