Immigration Clinic Students Help Family Stay Together
Arguing before the Chicago Immigration Court, law students Lun Kham and Andrea Schmidt recently secured lawful permanent residency for the immigrant parents of three American-born children. The father and mother of the Barrios family (from Guatemala and Mexico respectively) had both resided in the United States for approximately 18 years. During that time, they raised a family of three boys, all U.S. citizens, now ages 15, 13 and 10.
Professor Linda Kelly Hill, director of the Immigration Clinic at the law school, says, “The boys excel in school, taking advanced classes and having high ambitions for their college educations and futures. One of the children also suffers from severe migraines and weight loss and is under close medical supervision. Through championship soccer teams, church and school, the parents are also extremely active in the community and their boys’ lives.”
Kham and Schmidt were able to persuasively argue the parents were eligible for “cancellation of removal” by proving the “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” that would have been imposed on these three U.S. citizen children if they were effectively deported upon their parents being ordered removed. Professor Kelly Hill says, “Because of the students’ terrific work, the parents are now lawful permanent residency and already look forward to the day they can be sworn in as United States citizens.”
The students’ representation included providing all necessary examination and argumentation in a four hour hearing, drafting a 50 page legal memo, submitting nearly 700 pages of documentary evidence and preparing over 10 witnesses, including family, teachers and doctors.
Third year student Andrea Schmidt says, “The Immigration Clinic has given me my first insight into what it really means to practice law. Since the clinic is made up of only six students and Professor Kelly Hill, we are able to function like a little law firm, with weekly meetings where we collaborate about creative ways to approach our cases. Professor Kelly Hill has a special talent for teaching students how to navigate complicated statutes and use case law. I have no doubt that these skills will serve me well in any area of law.”
Lun Kham, also a third year student, agrees and adds, “Although it was a lot of work on top of classes and other commitments, I am thankful for the opportunity to be able to make a difference in this family’s life.” Working with the clinic last fall, Kham also represented a Burmese refugee woman in her successful bid for asylum before the Immigration Court in Chicago.
The law school’s Immigration Clinic was established in 2006 by Professor Linda Kelly Hill, the M. Dale Palmer Professor of Law. Clinic students represent non-detained immigrants in immigration matters under the supervision of Professor Kelly Hill. Since it’s inception approximately 30 students have assisted in Immigration Clinic cases.