Students enrolled in the Immigrant Rights Project represent clients fleeing persecution in their home countries, as well as noncitizen victims of domestic violence and other crimes. During their time in the clinic, students learn both the substantive immigration law and the essential professional skills that are necessary for success in their client’s cases and their efforts may save a client’s life.
Such was the case for two third-year students, Stacy Henderson and J.J. Robertson, who worked with a client to help him win an asylum case in January 2008. Their client was an officer in the Afghani military who had been ruthlessly persecuted by the Taliban and Mujahideen for his collaboration with U.S. and NATO forces supporting the democratically elected government of President Karzai.
Though the students received the case relatively late in the semester, they worked intensively with the client to prepare his application. In the process, they conducted extensive research into the political and human rights conditions in Afghanistan and worked closely with their client and a United States military expert to prepare detailed statements regarding the client’s harrowing experiences in his home country. Henderson and Robertson also prepared a detailed legal brief outlining the client’s eligibility for asylum.
“We hadn’t planned on taking on a case that late in the year because it requires so much,” Henderson said. “This case, though, looked like an incredible chance to help.”
After many thorough preparation sessions, Henderson and Robertson represented their client during an interview at the Houston Asylum Office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in January. The students’ efforts and their client’s faith in them paid off when they received notice in late January that the asylum petition had been granted. The client is thrilled to be establishing his new life in the United States. His advocates are unable to reveal his name or whereabouts for the protection of the client and his family.
Henderson and Robertson both graduated in May and have moved on to begin their careers. Their experiences in the legal clinic, as part of the exceptional education they received at the TU College of Law, has helped prepare them to move into their professional lives.