As 2010 drew to a close, the Law School’s Immigrant Rights Clinic, racked up some important victories. In Louisaire v. Muller, the clinic won release for client Jean Louisaire, after U.S. District Court Judge Colleen McMahon ruled on December 1 that immigration officals could not subject him to mandatory detention. The government had contended that a 2004 drug conviction made Louisaire an "aggravated felon," who had to be detained while it pursues removal proceedings against him. The IRC has won several other challenges to mandatory immigration detention. Stephen Kang '11 and Ruben Loyo '11, in the Advanced Immigrant Rights Clinic, represented Louisaire, working under the supervision Professor of Clinical Law Nancy Morawetz. Louisaire was released in time to join his family for the holidays.

On December 24, New York Governor David Paterson granted IRC client Francisco Moya de Leon a pardon for a decade-and-a-half-old drug conviction. The IRC is hopeful that the pardon will help end government efforts to deport Moya de Leon based on the conviction and allow him to obtain U.S. citizenship. He has been a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. since 1988, but was placed in removal proceedings after his application for naturalization in 2009 was erroneously denied and he sought appeal of that ruling in federal court. His wife and two children are U.S. citizens, and his son is an officer in the New York City Police Department. According to news reports, Moya de Leon was one of 24 immigrants pardoned on the day before Christmas, after their convictions had been reviewed by a special immigration pardon panel. IRC students Sara Cullinane '12 and Jessica Fan '12, also supervised by Moravetz, currently represent Moya de Leon. Says Fan: “Individuals like Mr. Moya, who take the initiative to apply for naturalization, should not be unjustly punished for their desire to become a citizen." (Read the IRC press release for more information.)

Published January 12, 2010