Winning in Immigration Court

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Many Clinic students are surprised to learn how quickly and thoroughly they are immersed in client representation. Immigrant Justice Clinic students Brian Shyr and Nicole Weinstock (pictured above) went to immigration court last week and won a victory for their client via a creative and challenging argument.

The most serious charge against their client, who has been a lawful permanent resident (LPR) since he was a child, was based on a Maryland drug distribution statute that could include conduct as relatively benign as socially sharing a small amount of marijuana, with no money changing hands. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) charges of removability included the claim that the offense was an aggravated felony because the Maryland offense was analogous to the federal felony of drug trafficking. The students argued that under the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Moncrieffe v. Holder (holding that a person charged under a similar Georgia statute could not be subject to removal because that statute could also be extended to include conduct that would only qualify as a misdemeanor), our client should not be charged with an aggravated felony, which would bar him from presenting a case to keep his LPR status. The court agreed, and our client will now have his day in court.

Brian and Nicole were “ecstatic” to obtain such a good result for their client, and noted that supervising attorney Anita Sinha was “just as excited” as they were. Succeeding in a case on a novel argument has boosted the students’ confidence and inspired them to keep pursuing their interests in immigration law.

The students also noted that the experience has helped them to see the system in a new way by showing them the difference quality legal representation can make in a client’s outcome.

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