Immigration Appellate Clinic Assists in 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Victory.
Maryland's Immigration Clinic, led by Professor Maureen Sweeney and students, had a tremendous victory in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. University of St Thomas adjunct professors Ben Casper and Kate Evans (along with Andres Benach in DC) , supervised University of St. Thomas students Holden Turner and Samuel Johnson in writing the American Immigration Lawyers Association Amicus Brief in support of the petitioner in the spring of 2013. The decision can be found at http://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Published/122424.P.pdf.
The UST clinic organized a multi-state moot of Sweeney and Casper as they prepared for oral argument in the fall of 2013, with students from the University of St. Thomas and the University of Minnesota taking part in the questioning. Casper and Evans are now at the University of Minnesota, and Professor Elizabeth Holmes of the Karam Law office now directs the UST Immigration Appellate clinic. The clinics at UST and the University of Minnesota continue to collaborate on projects.
The 4th circuit held that the petitioner's former gang membership qualifies as an immutable characteristic of a social group that supports withholding of removal. The petitioner had been drawn into gang life at age 14. When he refused to participate in criminal activity and in beatings of other gang members, he attempted to leave the gang at age 16. He was beaten, stabbed, shot, shot at again, and further threatened with death. As a result, he fled El Salvador, and sought protection in the US. The case has been remanded to the Board of Immigration Appeals, so there is still much work to be done. However, the fourth circuit's decision is great for asylum law and, hopefully, will help their client reach his ultimate goal of remaining in the United States.