Immigrant Defense Clinic

LW.10660 / LW.10230
Professor Yvonne Floyd-Mayers
Professor Jojo H. Annobil
Open to 3L and 2L students
Maximum of 12 students
Spring semester
5 credits*
No prerequisites or co-requisites. However, Immigration Law class is highly recommended.


This course will be offered to up to 12 students in the Spring semester as a semester-long, 5-credit course. This clinic focuses on the intersection between immigration law and criminal law and is separate from the year-long Immigrant Rights Clinic.

Course Description

The Immigrant Defense Clinic provides students with real-life lawyering experiences. Students collaborate with experienced attorneys in the representation of detained and non-detained indigent non-citizens, facing removal from the United States because of criminal convictions and other immigration law violations. Under current immigration law, non-citizens with old or minor criminal offenses such as jumping a turnstile, petty larceny or possession of marijuana are subject to removal from the United States no matter how long they have resided in this country or how strong their family ties in the United States. Although deportation practically constitutes banishment, non-citizens in removal proceedings have no right to an attorney at government expense. Clients are screened through various projects including the Immigration Representation Project at 26 Federal Plaza, where the main immigration court in New York City is located, at immigration detention facilities located in New Jersey and in Goshen, Orange County, New York, and through referrals from community based organizations.


Students in the clinic will have the opportunity to work one on one with staff attorneys at The Legal Aid Society's Immigration Law Unit and the Immigrant Justice Corps. The students will work in our offices located in Lower Manhattan. Students are required to complete 14 hours of fieldwork per week.  Students will work on every facet of litigation including conducting client interviews, investigating facts, developing case strategy, preparing applications for relief from removal, preparing supporting document packets for submission to Immigration Court, assisting with preparation of witnesses for evidentiary merits hearings, legal research and writing briefs and memoranda of law. Students attend master calendar and individual merits hearings. In addition, 3Ls will have an opportunity to provide direct representation to indigent clients in Immigration Court, under the supervision of their field work attorney. Students also have an opportunity to conduct Know Your Rights presentations at immigration detention facilities.


The seminar component of the clinic meets once a week for two hours and complements students' fieldwork. The seminar introduces students to immigration institutions and procedures. We explore the history of deportation and the impact of some of the recent immigration laws: the Antiterrorism, and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) and USA PATRIOT Act. The seminar discusses grounds of deportability and inadmissibility, relief from removal, the intersection between immigration and criminal law and mandatory detention provisions and developing case law. Following a discussion on interviewing and how to develop a theory of the case, students engage in simulated interviewing exercises. The seminar also explores ethical issues unique to the practice of immigration law. During the course of the semester, other stakeholders in the removal process including an immigration court judge, an attorney from the Office of Chief Counsel, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and a criminal defense attorney are invited to share their perspective and roles in the removal process. Guest appearances by a clinical psychologist/social worker and a non-citizen who has been through the immigration removal process help students delve into the human impact of removal. The students also have the opportunity to go on a tour of one of the local county jails where Immigration Customs Enforcement detains New York residents.  Weekly seminars end with case rounds during which students discuss their ongoing cases.

Application Procedure

Students should submit the standard application, resume and unofficial transcript using CAMS, the online application system. There will be no interview. If you have questions regarding the application procedure, please contact Susan Hodges.

Student Contacts

The following students were or are currently in the IDC:

Spring 2017
Katherine Buckalew
Conor Gaffney
Ruben Godinez
Emilia King-Musza
Lindsay Kramer
Xin Li
Callian McBreen
Erika Murdock
Clara Potter
Vaenssa Vallecillo
Brett Weinstein
Sahng-Ah Yoo
Spring 2017
Oscar Alvarado
Franni Bernstein
Isabelle Foley
Amith Gupta
Jiyae Hwang
Alyssa Isidoridy
Whitney Knowlton
Elizabeth McLean
Ocasha Musah
Vivian Pitchik
Ozgun Sak
Jun Tong

* 5 credits include 3 clinical credits and 2 academic seminar credits.