Immigrant Rights Clinic secures release of longtime New Yorker held under mandatory detention

NYU Law’s Immigrant Rights Clinic (IRC) won a major victory in December following the filing of a habeas petition in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Trang (Mae) Nguyen ’13, and Amy Pont ’14, under the supervision of IRC Adjunct Professor Sarah Gillman, represent a mentally disabled, longtime U.S. resident from Vietnam who had been detained for five months without a bond hearing in the course of deportation proceedings.

After seeking administrative solutions with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Nguyen and Pont, along with Gillman and IRC Assistant Professor of Clinical Law Alina Das '05, filed a federal court habeas petition alleging the illegality and unconstitutionality of their client’s prolonged, indefinite, and mandatory detention. Their client, whose name is not being disclosed in the interest of safeguarding his privacy, is facing deportation due to drug possession misdemeanor convictions he received several years ago. He was detained this summer despite, as his lawyers argued, having a substantial claim to U.S. citizenship as the Amerasian son of a U.S. Armed Service member who had served in Vietnam, and despite the clear terms of the U.S.-Vietnam repatriation agreement which precludes the deportation of immigrants to Vietnam who came to the U.S. prior to July 12, 1995, the date of normalization of relationship between the two countries. On December 10, 2012, DHS agreed to release their client. Nguyen and Pont have also filed a motion to terminate the removal proceedings against their client and will be litigating these issues in federal immigration court in the coming months.

“Our client’s case taught us that Amerasians still suffer the consequences of the Vietnam War, nearly 40 years later,” said Nguyen and Pont in a joint statement. “His release is an important victory but is only the first step in achieving justice for our client. We will continue to zealously fight for his rights in this unjust case.”

Posted January 11, 2013