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UT law students work in immigration clinic
Houston Chronicle ^ | Jan. 1, 2008 | JAMES PINKERTON

Posted on 01/01/2008 9:19:28 AM PST by SwinneySwitch

AUSTIN — There aren't many college students whose grasp of their classwork can make an immediate and profound difference in someone's life.

But at the University of Texas law school, students selected to work in an immigration clinic often defend clients who can't afford to lose their case.

"It was hands-down the most rewarding experience of my life. I felt like I had someone's life in my hands," recalls Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch, a 27-year-old Austin native and UT law school senior. "There are asylum seekers who are fleeing real danger in their countries, and if they were returned, I didn't have any doubt they would be hurt or killed."

Lincoln-Goldfinch and her classmates secured the release of a pregnant Nicaraguan woman from an immigration jail so her child wouldn't be born inside. They persuaded immigration judges to grant asylum to an African schoolteacher and a half-dozen Christian families who had fled Iraq because of religious persecution.

And they took part in a lawsuit that resulted in a settlement to improve conditions for immigrant children jailed with their parents in an Austin-area detention center.

The students are part of a free immigration law clinic opened in 1999 on the oak tree-lined campus of the Austin law school. Each semester, a group of 10 to 15 promising law students are selected to work in the clinic and are soon tackling the often complex legal problems encountered by immigrants.

The UT clinic's phone number is posted on the walls of a number of immigration detention centers in Texas, and students say they get frequent calls.

"Unfortunately, resources at the immigration clinic are severely limited. We can only help a very small percentage of those who call," said Matthew Pizzo, a 24-year-old law student from Pasadena who plans to graduate from UT in May.

The clinic is directed by law professor Barbara C. Hines, a two-time Fulbright scholar and immigration attorney with more than 30 years of experience. Hines said the clinic was established because of concerns expressed by Latino law students about the scarcity of free legal services for immigrants.

"Clinics are very important, because they give students an opportunity to apply what they learn in academic classes in real work settings," Hines said. "It is a wonderful experience for students, because they actually represent clients while they're in law school."

Hines said the students do most of the hard work needed to represent clients.

"They go to court under our supervision. They present the cases. They write the legal briefs. They present the testimony in court," she said.

Among Pizzo's first clients were Chaldean Christian families who had fled Iraq, where members of the small sect are a minority. The families had surrendered to U.S. immigration authorities in Southern California, he said, and were placed in detention in Texas.

"They did not swim the river. They didn't use false documents. They went to the international crossing and said, 'Please help me, I'm seeking liberty,'" Pizzo said. "These are Iraqis who were severely persecuted. They're considered infidels, traitors and crusaders."

Many of the UT law students involved in the clinic, including Pizzo, plan a career in immigration law once they become licensed attorneys.

Parisa Fatehi, an Iranian native who graduated from UT in May, said the experience was "absolutely critical to my legal education."

"Law school equips you with some powerful tools, and being part of the clinic lets you put some of those tools to use right away," said Fatehi, 29, who works as a law clerk for U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore in Houston.

Fatehi and other students took on the defense of a young woman from Nicaragua who had come to the United States seeking asylum after she was forced into prostitution in her home country.

The woman, who had an infant and was expecting another, was detained in the T. Don Hutto detention center in Taylor near Austin. During her stay at Hutto, the infant lost a disturbing amount of weight, Fatehi said.

"It exposed us to why help was needed on multiple fronts," she said.

The students persuaded a judge to release the woman, who is now awaiting conclusion to her asylum claim.

"It was consuming," Fatehi said of her clinic duties. "It was hard to compare my commitment to something I was learning in a textbook, to a woman who needed our help."

In 2007, students from the UT immigration clinic joined the American Civil Liberties Union in a suit against the government on behalf of children detained in Hutto. They alleged prisonlike conditions which violated an existing court ruling that requires the least restrictive detention facilities for minors.

The case was settled in August, when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials agreed to make improvements at Hutto, including the expansion of education and medical services.

Lincoln-Goldfinch, who will graduate from UT law school in May, has been awarded a two-year fellowship financed by the Dallas-based law firm Akin Gump to provide legal services to detainees in Hutto.

"I wouldn't have pursued it, I wouldn't have known about it. None of it would have happened if I hadn't done the immigration clinic," Lincoln-Goldfinch said.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: aliens; collaborators; crimaliens; illegalimmigration; immigrantlist; immigration; quislings; texas

1 posted on 01/01/2008 9:19:30 AM PST by SwinneySwitch
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To: SwinneySwitch
I felt like I had someone's life in my hands

In 2007, students from the UT immigration clinic joined the American Civil Liberties Union in a suit against the government


Breeding centers for legal maggots.
2 posted on 01/01/2008 9:24:45 AM PST by SpaceBar
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To: SwinneySwitch
Even braced with the forewarning it was about UT, I still couldn’t read past the first few sentences before breakfast started coming up. I have to visit the campus 2-3 times a month and feel the need of a Lysol bath every time. UT and Austin are a blight on the great state. No other place in the world, except CA, are there as many 60’s hippies and freaks. Is there any wonder the city motto is, “Keep Austin Weird”.
3 posted on 01/01/2008 9:28:29 AM PST by mtbopfuyn (I think the border is kind of an artificial barrier - San Antonio councilwoman Patti Radle)
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To: All

I hate that “immigrant” is always used to describe anything “illegal alien”

Thats like referring to shoplifters as “undocumented customers”.

My resolution for this year will be to correct anyone or thing that refers to illegal aliens as “immigrants”. This is nothing more than a slur against real immigrants


4 posted on 01/01/2008 9:28:41 AM PST by UCFRoadWarrior (Duncan Hunter for President: Lets Build That Border Fence)
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To: SwinneySwitch

“Unfortunately, resources at the immigration clinic are severely limited. We can only help a very small percentage of those who call,” said Matthew Pizzo, a 24-year-old law student from Pasadena who plans to graduate from UT in May.

Let’s hope resources get even more limited.


5 posted on 01/01/2008 9:36:14 AM PST by BeckB
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To: SpaceBar
Breeding centers for legal maggots.

Funny that you mention it . . . the law students at the low-income taxpayer clinic where I worked were almost universally conservative.

6 posted on 01/01/2008 9:39:00 AM PST by 1rudeboy
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To: SwinneySwitch
University of Texas

Berkely south.

7 posted on 01/01/2008 9:41:58 AM PST by Don Corleone (Leave the gun..take the cannoli)
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To: SwinneySwitch

Of course, there are no legal immigrants or citizens in need of free legal services. Illegals are the cause du jour of the left.


8 posted on 01/01/2008 9:48:58 AM PST by tennteacher (Duncan Hunter '08)
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To: tennteacher

Kinda’ odd for a U.S. citizen to expect legal help from an immigration law clinic.


9 posted on 01/01/2008 9:53:24 AM PST by 1rudeboy
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To: 1_Inch_Group; 2sheep; 2Trievers; 3AngelaD; 3pools; 3rdcanyon; 4Freedom; 4ourprogeny; 7.62 x 51mm; ..

ping


10 posted on 01/01/2008 9:56:45 AM PST by gubamyster
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To: 1rudeboy

The US citizen could be trying to work through the bureaucracy for a legal permit for, e.g., a father, cousin, wife, worker, etc. Not saying that it is necessarily the case in the story, but certainly possible and lawful. Similarly for “asylum” cases. We do have laws that allow entry for those who would be persecuted, under stated conditions in laws passed by congress. Many are phony, but many are not. Again, legit for lawyers to work on.


11 posted on 01/01/2008 10:09:01 AM PST by BohDaThone
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To: SwinneySwitch
"asylum seekers" Is this the new PC word for persons who become gang members and/or drug dealers here in the States?

Need lots more information about why these potential criminals are fleeing their countries... and I doubt that a wet-behind-the-ears 27-year old law student would be able to discern that her paid-for-by-the-state client is bad news.

12 posted on 01/01/2008 10:11:34 AM PST by xtinct (I was the next door neighbor kid's imaginary friend.)
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To: BohDaThone
One thing that people fail to understand is that, at a legal aid clinic staffed by law students, the professor(s) in charge choose to take cases based upon their value as learning-tools.

So I'm not surprised that these students are spending time on asylum cases, etc. (Despite the reporter's attempt to paint this as simply a "Mexican" issue, with that comment about why the clinic was created).

13 posted on 01/01/2008 10:13:03 AM PST by 1rudeboy
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To: SwinneySwitch

Ironic that these zombies from a multi-cultural indoctrination center are defending people who broke our laws trying to flee their “culture.”


14 posted on 01/01/2008 10:44:27 AM PST by junta (It's Poltical Correctness stupid! Hold liberals accountable for their actions, a new idea.)
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To: mtbopfuyn
As a graduate student attending UT Austin I wish I could disagree with you.

I had been living very close to the university for a couple of years, great access to the engineering buildings, but I couldn't take the hyde park residents. This year I'm living far enough out to get away from most of the loonies.

There are a lot of decent people attending UT, but for the most part we get drowned out by the liberals, socialists, and cult members. Scientologists in particular are starting to take over the drag.

-paridel
15 posted on 01/01/2008 11:19:37 AM PST by Paridel
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To: Paridel

MINUTE MEN of America

NRA of America

 We want to know.....what the hell are you waiting for?

Your endorsements could make the difference in the upcoming elections.  If you haven't noticed, you have the perfect candidate in the race.  The future of stopping illegal immigration and the individuals right to bear arms are at stake.  Failure to give your support to the right person could cost all freedom loving Americans dearly.  Your members want you to endorse a person that will stop illegal immigration and secure our rights to bear arms.  A true conservative is the only choice, no liberal republicans or democrats need apply.

Everyone needs to call NRA headquarters / Minute Men headquarters today and voice our opinions.  I have.

 


"When I am president, I will build a fence."

"My idea of gun control is a good, steady aim."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

16 posted on 01/01/2008 11:45:27 AM PST by glmjr
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To: xtinct
"asylum seekers" is a term based on laws congress has passed, allowing entry to people with "a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, political opinion" etc. There are lots of invalid claims of such, and lots of valid ones.

Mexicans rarely or never come under these headings. Most valid caes involve Chinese (forced abortions), Albanians (political persecution), Iraqi Christians, Cubans, some Sudanese and Mauritanians (oppression by Muslim Arabs v. black Christians or pagans). Most invalid ones involve phony claims of any of the above.

But, it's not "PC" anything -- it's a legal category, which people are entitled to apply for, per laws pased by Congress.

Has been used in the past by Jews from Europe, Hungarians after 1956 revolution, Vietnamese and Laotians after the Dems sold them out, etc.

17 posted on 01/01/2008 11:47:58 AM PST by BohDaThone
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To: BohDaThone
asylum seekers...

1. my post was sarcasm
2. Cases are in Texas... Why would asylum seekers be entering the U.S. illegally through Mexico? (That's what the article said.)

18 posted on 01/01/2008 12:06:35 PM PST by xtinct (I was the next door neighbor kid's imaginary friend.)
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To: xtinct
Complaints about pc don't always sound like sarcasm -- but I'm happy to accept that it was.

Lots of folks from all over the world first get to the US through Mexico. That's what we hear all the time, and it is true. I'm not saying all asylum seekers are genuine, or even that most are -- but we have laws that allow them to enter, if genuine, and we have a process for judging them. Sometimes people actually present at the border, and say "I seek asylum"; sometimes they sneak in and then apply, and the law says that the illegal entry doesn't count against you if you apply within a year and if your claim is otherwise genuine.

SO, there's nothing impossible, or even very unusual for someone to high-tail it out of, e.g., Bosnia, Uzbekistan, China, Mauritania, Sudan, and work your way to mexico and then enter there. Again, I'm not saying that any given case is legit, or that most are, but some are, and that's exactly how it happens. They make application, it's judged by the INS (now ICE), either side can appeal, etc., etc.

Also, if you do present at the border and claim asylum, you usually get an informal interview right away. Depending on how that goes, you may be allowed to enter pending your application being processed and adjudicated. And you better believe that you will do better in that process if you have a decent lawyer. Lots of claimants have sleazy incompetent ones -- some in order to push phony claims, but some get screwed even if they have good claims.

19 posted on 01/01/2008 3:42:07 PM PST by BohDaThone
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To: SwinneySwitch

Quisling School of Law bump!


20 posted on 01/01/2008 3:48:07 PM PST by VOA
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To: tennteacher; gubamyster
"Of course, there are no legal immigrants or citizens in need of free legal services. Illegals are the cause du jour of the left."

Yep....the open borders crowd has put them at the head of the line for all kinds of benefits and services, at the expense of the rest of us!

21 posted on 01/01/2008 3:53:25 PM PST by TheLion
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To: Paridel
My sympathies. A couple years ago, the kids had a field trip to UT. They walked hiked in 100 degree heat from one end to the other. Over by the bookstore there were tables set up with Islamics yelling obscenities at passerbys which sorely turned the kids off. By the time they got back to the bus, I don't think any hadn't marked UT off their list. Mine are looking at A&M and San Marcos. Further from home, but we all feel better about those. What's with all the YELLING? Poor manners from by a significant portion of the foreign students leaves a negative mark on the school. I mean, it's not cultural differences but outright rudeness to go through otherwise quiet designated study areas YELLING. I made the comment Sunday that it was so nice to be on campus during the break because it was so peaceful --- of course I had spoken too soon.
22 posted on 01/01/2008 6:33:14 PM PST by mtbopfuyn (I think the border is kind of an artificial barrier - San Antonio councilwoman Patti Radle)
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To: SwinneySwitch; All

Folks this is one where legislation CAN make a difference.

The UT could be prohibited by STATUTE from giving credit for clinic time done in these illegal alien mills.

These law students have to work under a licensed attorney. They are able to essentially skip real classroom work in order to work as virtual licensed lawyers to assist illegals. YOUR student load dollars, YOUR tax funded scholarships, MOM AND DAD’s tuition payments so their kids can help flood the usa.


23 posted on 01/02/2008 10:23:08 AM PST by longtermmemmory (VOTE! http://www.senate.gov and http://www.house.gov)
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