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School of Law

Immigrant Rights Clinic

Faculty: Professors Elizabeth Keyes and Sabrina Balgamwalla

The Immigrant Rights Clinic is a six-credit, one-semester course, where students have the opportunity to learn many dimensions of lawyering by engaging in both direct client representation and immigrant rights policy work. Under faculty supervision, the students serve clinic clients with a variety of matters, from written filings for crime survivors (domestic violence, trafficking, and other crimes) that are submitted to the Department of Homeland Security U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to asylum and other matters that are heard in Baltimore’s immigration court. Students may also individually handle less complicated immigration matters, such as renewing employment authorization documents, extending temporary protected status, or filing for citizenship.

Additionally, students may collaborate on one issue related to systemic law reform, to improve the procedures and laws that shape our immigrant clients’ lives. The IRC focuses particularly on issues of concern locally, in Baltimore and Maryland. The policy work may include such projects as monitoring immigration enforcement issues, preparing reports on immigrant rights issues, or doing legislative work before and during Maryland’s annual legislative session.

Clients in the Immigrant Rights Clinic come from all over the world, including Africa, Asia, Europe, and Central and Latin America. The clinic's caseload touches on many areas of immigration practice, including asylum law, protection for victims of human trafficking, protection for battered immigrants, protection for victims of certain types of crimes, cancellation of removal, and family reunification. Students serve as the clients’ primary representatives, and under the supervision of faculty, they undertake the work necessary for their clients, from interviewing the clients, to investigating facts, researching the relevant law, drafting briefs and affidavits, filing applications for relief and supporting documentation, and, where required, representing clients in immigration interviews and in court. Students also attend a weekly three-hour seminar focusing on the multiple lawyering skills required to be an effective advocate, from interviewing and counseling to working with interpreters to writing persuasively for many different audiences to trials skills in the context of immigration court.

Recent clients include the following:

  • Immigrants seeking asylum from gender based persecution, persecution on the basis of political opinion, and persecution on the basis of religion.
  • A battered immigrant seeking permanent residence.
  • A woman trafficked into a Washington, D.C. brothel seeking status in the U.S.
  • An abandoned immigrant child taken in by U.S. citizens seeking permanent residence.

Prerequisite: Evidence

Co- or prerequisite: Professional Responsibility

Recommended: Immigration Law; International Human Rights

Policies and Procedures

The Immigrant Rights Clinic selects all of its students under the lottery system. Applications are due at specific dates the semester prior and follow set procedures.