Immigrant Rights Clinic wins a groundbreaking victory

Nikki Reisch '12The Immigrant Rights Clinic (IRC) recently won a groundbreaking victory for immigrant rights in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Oliva-Ramos v. Attorney General, No. 10-3849, -- F.3d -- (3d Cir. Sept. 13, 2012). The case stemmed from a pre-dawn home raid by armed Immigration and Custom Enforcement officials, which resulted in the warrantless arrest of several individuals including the clinic’s client, Erick Oliva-Ramos. Part of “Operation Return to Sender,” these home raids purport to identify and deport noncitizens with past deportation orders but sweep much more broadly. The result is mass detentions and deportations in violation of individuals’ constitutional rights.  

In Oliva-Ramos, the Third Circuit recognized the applicability of the “exclusionary rule” in removal proceedings to suppress evidence that the government obtained through egregious or widespread violations of immigrants’ Fourth Amendment Rights. In doing so, the Third Circuit vacated the order of removal entered the Board of Immigration Appeals and remanded the case to give Oliva-Ramos an opportunity to have his case considered under the proper legal standard and with a complete record on the egregious and widespread nature of any violations that the he faced.

The clinic has represented Oliva-Ramos since 2007. He has been represented by several generations of clinic students since his initial immigration hearings: Adrienne Hernandez ’08, Tim Warden-Hertz ’09, Kate Evans ‘09, Tom Fritzsche ’09 Stephen Kang ’11, Ruben Loyo ’11, Nancy Steffan ’11, and Nikki Reisch ’12. The case has been supervised or co-supervised through the clinic over the years by Haeyoung Yoon, Nancy Morawetz '81, Jason Cade, and Alina Das '05. Several NYU alums also played key roles in the case, including Rex Chen, '95, Peter Markowitz,  '01, and Connie Tse, '10.

In a footnote, the Third Circuit recognized the role of the clinic and the advocacy of Reisch, who argued the case before the panel:

“The panel notes that Nikki Reisch argued on behalf of Petitioner as an eligible law student pursuant to Local Appellate Rule 46.3. The Court commends her exceptional oral advocacy and expresses its gratitude to her and to the New York University School of Law and the Washington Square Legal Services, Inc. for the pro bono representation provided for the Petitioner in this matter.”

The case is now being remanded to the Board of Immigration Appeals for further proceedings, which will be handled by clinic students Abbey Augus '14, and Matthew Craig '13, in the upcoming months.

Posted on October 4, 2012