Immigration Clinic Win!

Touro Law’s Immigration Clinic Secures Hard-Earned Victory

Touro Law students Pierre Piazza and Laraib Sarwar won a difficult victory for a Guatemalan woman facing persecution in her home country. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) stipulated to the grant and the judge granted protection from deportation without requiring the client to testify. The students appeared remotely before the San Francisco Immigration Court alongside their client from the clinic conference room at school.

“The students’ work on this case exemplifies the Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic’s commitment to teaching practical legal skills through work on highly complex cases, securing life-changing relief for clients, and collaborating with advocacy organizations that pursue immigration justice,” stated Mauricio Noroña, Director of the Immigration Rights Advocacy Clinic and Assistant Clinical Professor of Law.

The client's journey began amidst a high-profile ICE raid in Mississippi in 2019, where she was among 680 immigrants arrested for allegedly working without legal documentation. Subsequent deportation and immigration-related criminal convictions ensued, leading to a reinstated removal order upon her return to the United States in 2021. Barred from seeking asylum, she could only remain in the U.S. under a more stringent form of deportation relief. Her plight gained national attention, prompting intervention from key figures, including the chair of the House DHS Oversight Committee. National organizations have highlighted the challenges faced by the client to advocate for immigration protections for workers standing up against labor law violations.
The client stated, “The students and Professor Noroña gave my case so much importance. And, their work led the judge and the ICE officials to give me this protection. I am immensely happy with the work of the students, Professor Noroña, and all the organizations that supported me. I thank them wholeheartedly.”

The road to victory was arduous. Last semester, a dedicated student team, including Rida Raza, Michael Alperin, and LeAnn Ahmad, meticulously developed the client's case, working with factual and expert witnesses to strengthen her application and crafting a prosecutorial discretion request to ICE. This semester, Pierre and Laraib tirelessly prepared for litigation, ensuring the readiness of factual and expert witnesses, while pursuing a prosecutorial discretion advocacy strategy with the National Day Laborers Organizing Network (NDLON). Their efforts garnered support from 50 organizations nationwide, further bolstering their client's case.

The meticulous work completed by the Touro Law students developing and presenting the substantive merits of the case resulted in ICE agreeing to stipulate and the judge granting relief.

The students learned valuable lessons in advocating for their client while in law school.

Laraib Sarwar states, “Being a part of the immigration clinic and working on our client’s case allowed me to achieve a clearer understanding of the challenges associated with the practice of immigration law. My favorite part of this case was knowing that all the work I’m doing has a real and tangible effect on my client’s life. When the judge granted, and I was able to see the look of relief on our client’s face, it felt so gratifying to have been part of this process.”

Pierre Piazza said, “My experiences as a student with the Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic have taught me to approach cases with an open mind and heart, no matter how bleak their outcomes may seem. Our client deserves the opportunities she has gained here in the United States, and I am happy to have worked together with the Clinic to achieve what we didn’t think was possible. I greatly appreciate the opportunities the Clinic has given me and the people I’ve met throughout my time here.”

PHOTO CAPTION: Touro Law students Pierre Piazza (left) and Laraib Sarwar (right) pose with their client in the Immigration Rights Advocacy Clinic at Touro Law Center.

 


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