Immigration Law Practice News
Sunday's Star Tribune led with a powerful story from alumna Alison Griffith '14, who found herself across the desk from an 8-year-old girl from Guatemala who was separated from her father at the U.S.-Mexico border.
On Wednesday it was announced that President Trump had heeded the urging of Kim Kardashian West and would commute the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, a non-violent drug offender serving a life sentence. It was a seemingly merciful and justified use of the president's power of clemency amidst a recent pardon spree that has largely benefited right-wing allies and firebrands like Joe Arpaio, Scooter Libby, and Dinesh D'Souza.
But if Trump's unconventional and uneven application of the pardon power is rankling some feathers, University of St. Thomas law professor Mark Osler believes that he may be inadvertently improving the way that the clemency system works. He and Bob discuss the roots of the presidential pardon, how it came to be considered a political risk and what a better system would look like.
Mark Osler, Board of Contributors: Reflecting on the good guys in the sorry state of American politics
Federal Commutations Clinic professor Mark Osler, "Everyone in politics, from the far right to the far left, seems to decry 'divisiveness,' a call that usually means that everyone else should come to their side and agree with them. The response to our divisions has not been compromise or moving to the middle; rather, it has been retrenchment and retribution. The result is a government that gets little done in addressing the very real challenges our nation faces."
Trump seems to be employing the pardon power as much for retribution as for mercy — to lash out at his critics and reward his friends who are under attack.
Clinic professor Mark Osler comments for NPR about the potential beginning of a celebrity-driven pardon system in the Trump era.
Presidential pardons for friends are legal — but they’re wrong | Professor Mark Osler for the Washington Post
With his fourth exercise of the clemency power, President Trump has once again chosen to favor someone (Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the chief of staff to former vice president Dick Cheney) who is connected and powerful. Meanwhile, none of the deserving federal prisoners with pending petitions — including many serving narcotics sentences that are now broadly condemned — have received a similar benefit. This is legal, but it is wrong.
Professor Virgil Wiebe facilitated a candid discussion between Minneapolis Mayor, Chief of Police, and Immigration Policy expert this past Friday. The forum explored methods and obstacles to bridge-building between local immigrant communities crippled by fear and law enforcement responsible for public safety.
In a symposium commemorating the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s death, Professor Mark Osler sat on a panel of nationally renowned scholars to discuss the state of criminal justice. Hosted by the University of Memphis, the panel addressed policing in communities of color and contemporary penal policy, while grappling with the complex question of what policing and punishment should look like going forward.
Special counsel more likely to steer away from indicting the president | Professor Mark Osler for the Waco Tribune-Herald
In the end, we may well be left without charges against Trump and without an impeachment, even if significant evidence is developed against him. That might not be a bad thing. If we are left only with democratic solutions through orderly politics rather than prosecution, that still is much more than nothing. Solutions through the ballot box may not seem like “Hammer Time,” but they are just as American. Read more.
What exactly is a sanctuary city? St. Thomas law school Professor Virgil Wiebe talks to Heather Brown of WCCO-TV | CBS Minnesota.
Brad Walz '04, head of our new Trademark Clinic and shareholder with Winthrop & Weinstine, suggests you conduct a trademark search before getting that new business up and running.
I first visited St. Thomas Law to give a talk to the faculty at lunch. During the visit I saw the mission statement posted on a wall: “The University of St. Thomas School of Law, as a Catholic law school, is dedicated to integrating faith and reason in the search for truth through a focus on morality and social justice.” There, in a few words, were so many challenging imperatives. Faith and reason. Truth. Morality. Social Justice. Each different, each complicated, and each one of them was a part of what I had been imperfectly striving for.
A shift in U.S. immigration policy to include deporting people without criminal records has resulted in a deportation order for a Minnesota naturopathic doctor who has spent the past 18 years in the state, and, according to her patients, saved lives.
ICE Settles Case Challenging Interference with Legal Representation at Dilley | Faculty Fellow Rebecca Scholtz was Co-counsel for Catholic Legal Immigration Network
The parties in Dilley Pro Bono Project v. ICE have reached a settlement that ensures access to mental health evaluations for certain detained mothers and children seeking asylum. The case was filed after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) barred Caroline Perris, a full-time legal assistant with the Dilley Pro Bono Project (DPBP), from entering the South Texas Family Residential Center (STFRC) in Dilley, Texas.
Presidential pardon power: Trump takes aim at Constitution's soul | Prof. Osler for the Star Tribune
President Barack Obama used the pardon power to free hundreds of narcotics prisoners serving harsh terms. It was a principled use of mercy, a striking vision of the most powerful person on Earth recognizing the humanity of the least powerful. Now, President Donald Trump appears to be considering an abuse of that same power by helping some of the most powerful people on Earth, including himself. If he does try to stymie the investigation into collusion with Russia through clemency, Trump will harm both his legacy and the moral force of the pardon power itself.
What is the definition of an unaccompanied child (“UC”) under federal immigration law and what protections are afforded to such children? This practice advisory is intended to educate advocates on important UC protections and assist them with starting-point strategies for combating Department of Homeland Security efforts to strip vulnerable children of protections afforded to them as unaccompanied children.
In August 2016, Rudy Martinez received clemency from President Obama. He was one of 1,714 people who had their sentences commuted during Obama’s second term. Like Rudy, nearly all of them were non-violent drug offenders. In those two-and-a-half decades of incarceration, he often joked that he would be free when the Cubs won the World Series. It turned out he was right.
Catholic Legal Immigration Network Joins Lawsuit Challenging Government’s Interference with Legal Representation of Mothers and Children Detained in Dilley, Texas
The Dilley Pro Bono Project (DPBP), a consortium of the American Immigration Council, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA), filed suit to challenge a new ICE policy that arbitrarily restricts the types of legal services that DPBP may provide and interferes with the ability of DPBP staff to effectively represent their clients.
Immigration agents in Minnesota, neighboring states making more arrests under Trump | Prof. Wiebe speaks to the Star Tribune
After months of speculation about how much the new government had picked up the pace of immigration arrests and deportations, new data from Immigration and Customs Enforcement offers an early glimpse. From the inauguration through mid-March, agents working out of ICE's St. Paul office, which also covers the Dakotas, Iowa and Nebraska, arrested more than 620 immigrants — up roughly 80 percent over the same period last year.
Minnesota law enforcement grapples with federal immigration orders, goals | Prof. Wiebe speaks to MPR News
The Trump administration has cited Hennepin County for not cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement efforts to detain some immigrants in the country illegally who allegedly committed crimes.
But some in Minnesota law enforcement say there are limits to how they can respond to such federal requests.
The Trump administration on Monday issued the first in what will be a weekly list of jurisdictions it says have not honored federal immigration detainer requests.
'Noncooperative': Hennepin County lands on new Trump immigration list | Prof. Wiebe comments in the Star Tribune
Prof. Wiebe speaks to the Star Tribune about recent immigration critique from the Trump administration.
My school in downtown Minneapolis is built around a stunning atrium, a four-story glass-walled showcase looking out over a broad lawn and the Target corporate headquarters. Twice a year, new citizens of the United States are sworn in there as the sun streams in.
Immigration Under Trump: Radical Change or More of Same? | Prof. Virgil Wiebe speaks at St. Cloud State University
Prof. Virgil Wiebe speaks at St. Cloud State University's School of Public Affairs on March 21, 2017 from 3:30pm - 4:15pm. The topic of discussion is Immigration under the Trump administration. Professor Wiebe will also explain U.S. immigration law in the Minnesota context by using the imagery of a hotel with U.S. citizens occupying the top floor, unauthorized immigrants as living in the basement, as other types of legal status in between.
Faculty Fellow Rebecca Scholtz presents at CLE on April 27 | Immigrants and Minnesota Family Law - Current Strategies in Uncertain Times
Faculty Fellow Rebecca Scholtz presents at a Minnesota State Bar Association CLE called Immigrants and Minnesota Family Law - Current Strategies in Uncertain Times on April 27.
The First Fifty Days | Prof. Collett and Prof. Wiebe speak on a panel focusing on the new administration.
Prof. Collett and Prof. Wiebe speak on a panel called The First Fifty Days, discussing the new administration on March 9, 2017. The panel is supported by the Institute for Catholicism & Citizenship – University of St. Thomas – Minnesota.
University of St. Thomas General Counsel and law professors formed a panel to explore the implications and legality of President Trump's executive orders on immigration.
(KMSP) - President Donald Trump significantly expanded the number of undocumented immigrants who face the possibility of deportation. The expansion was outlined in two memos released by the Department of Homeland Security.
Prof. Virgil Wiebe, Director of the Immigration Law Practice Group, speaks about the immigration executive orders on Kare11.
Samira Dahir got the call in the middle of the night: Her 4-year-old daughter, who was scheduled to leave a Ugandan refugee camp for the United States, would not be going anywhere because of an executive order President Trump had signed days before, temporarily blocking refugees from entering the United States.
Immigration Clinic Joins Effort to get Somali Girl to Minnesota Amid Travel Ban | St. Thomas Newsroom
The immigration clinic at the University of St. Thomas School of Law prepared this week to sign on to any potential litigation involving the case of a 4-year-old girl from Somalia who was impacted by President Trump’s recent travel ban. Faculty and students from the School of Law’s immigration and religious liberty clinics, including professors Virgil Wiebe and Tom Berg, students Ted Shillingstad and Jessica Lanzi, and alumnus James Todd ’14, were conducting background research into constitutional questions related to the case when young Mushkaad Abdi was cleared for travel.
There are number of ways for people from other countries to come to the U.S. So, how do they differ? Heather Brown answers this Good Question with Professor Virgil Wiebe. WCCO 4 News At 10
As the presidency of Barack Obama wrapped up last week, so too did the largest federal clemency initiative in United States history. But not before the sentences of 105 federal inmates were cut short thanks to the work of University of St. Thomas School of Law Professor Mark Osler and his former students.
Prof. Wiebe contributes to the research depicted in CBS Minnesota's news.
President-elect Donald Trump swept to the White House promising to clamp down on illegal immigration and so-called "sanctuary cities" like Minneapolis and St. Paul whose leaders vow not to act as local immigration enforcers.
Republicans around the country — including the newly empowered GOP majorities in the Minnesota Legislature — have followed suit, threatening to withhold government aid from cities that decline to work with federal immigration authorities and represent themselves as safe havens against deportation.
“You’re just watching the ship sink and you’re in the lifeboat. And there’s not enough room for everyone,” said Mark Osler, a University of St. Thomas law professor and former federal prosecutor who runs a clemency clinic for law students. “These last few weeks — it’s deep joy and it’s deep tragedy.”
Sanctuary and the Rights of Immigrants on Campus | Prof. Wiebe Speaks at the Institute for Advanced Study
What are the rights of undocumented people on campus?
What is a sanctuary campus?
What is a sanctuary city? What does it mean that Minneapolis is a sanctuary city?
The Constitution gives presidents nearly unlimited authority to grant pardons and commute sentences — decisions that no future administration can reverse. Unfortunately, for most of his presidency, Barack Obama treated mercy as an afterthought. Even as thousands of men and women endured outrageously long sentences for low-level, nonviolent drug offenses as a result of the nation’s misguided drug war, Mr. Obama granted relief to only a tiny handful.
A coalition of more than 50 scholars and advocates are calling on President Obama to expand clemency efforts in the final weeks of his administration — including considering granting clemency to entire groups of people without case-by-case review.
Jocelyn Hernandez dressed in all black on Wednesday morning as she faced an uncertain future.
An Obama administration program for young immigrants brought to the country as children allowed Hernandez, a North Hennepin Community College sociology student, to work, drive and plan for a career as a teacher. President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to end the deportation reprieve program — part of a tougher stance on illegal immigration that he made a centerpiece of his campaign.
After his victory, Minnesota Latinos and other immigrants worry about pledges to step up deportations, build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and crack down on employers who hire unauthorized workers. The election’s outcome also dimmed hope for a state proposal to grant driver’s licenses to residents without legal status — and for national immigration reform that would open a path to citizenship.
Meanwhile, Trump’s election heartened Minnesotans who want to see tougher immigration enforcement.
Key questions remain about what a Trump administration can do and will do about immigration, said Virgil Wiebe, an immigration law expert at the University of St. Thomas.
The Minnesota 8 committed crimes and served their time via state laws.
Now, they're facing federal punishment.
Based on a 1996 immigration law, they can be deported for committing aggravated felonies even if they've served time.
St. Thomas law Professor Virgil Wiebe explained the big picture.
"The tricky thing is with the shifting definitions of what kinds of crimes will get you deported. The law that was passed in 1996 says a whole range of crimes, from very serious crimes, to what appeared to the common person to be petty crimes, are considered aggravated felonies, "Professor Wiebe added.
Mark Osler's journey has led him from a career as a fierce prosecutor, to now arguing for clemency and leniency in sentencing. He also works to abolish the death penalty. We talk about this transformation, as well as his new book, Prosecuting Jesus.
In our conversation, Osler talks about being a prosecutor in an era of "mandatory minimum sentences." He would watch defense attorneys make impassioned arguments, even though the words would not lessen the sentence that would be imposed. Despite their seeming futility, Osler credits those passionate speeches with changing his own mind about the criminal justice system, and his role in it.
We go to the heart of the importance of that "faithful futility" in this compelling and fascinating interview.
Mark Osler, Board of Contributors: Our attitudes about one another better improve, win or lose, beginning Nov. 9
This election cycle has been a cruel one. The presidential candidates share one thing, at least: the instinct to attack their opponent in the most cutting way possible. Our electorate is largely following suit. Many Trump supporters genuinely believe Hillary Clinton is evil. An equal number of Clinton supporters cannot imagine why anyone would vote for Trump, a man they despise.
We are in the heart of cross country season for high school and college athletes. Watching a race last week reminded me of this crucial point in the Obama presidency. Just as runners accelerate to the finish, knowing that moving up in those last few hundred yards may be the difference between a victory for their team or a loss, President Obama will finish his clemency project either with a flourish—thus ensuring his legacy for restoring the lost tool of the pardon power—or with a limp, coloring his record on criminal justice. If he fails to finish strong, it will not just be his legacy that suffers, but the hopes of prisoners with good cases and the sense of fairness one hopes for when justice and mercy meet the levers of power.
The scene: a briefing room at the White House. Date: March 31, 2016.
The audience: a diverse group of administration officials, attorneys, human rights activists and former prisoners who had received presidential grants of clemency.
The day before, President Barack Obama had announced another 61 such grants, bringing the total of prisoners whose sentences he had commuted during his presidency to 248. That same day, however, The Washington Post had run an article critical of the administration for not doing enough to act on the thousands of petitions for clemency from federal prisoners serving lengthy sentences. The article prominently quoted a law professor – an expert on clemency – calling the grants nothing to celebrate when more than 9,000 petitions from eligible prisoners remained pending.
The source quoted: Professor Mark Osler of the University of St. Thomas School of Law.
The work of the Federal Commutations clinic and Professor Osler is covered by Fox 9 News.
Law professor Mark Osler told a federal inmate serving a life sentence that he would be a free man by New Years.
The news came by the White House and the Department of Justice, which announced Tuesday President Barack Obama had commuted the sentences of 111 federal inmates.
Osler holds the Robert and Marion Short Distinguished Chair in Law at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis. Before joining the law faculty, he was an assistant U.S. attorney in Detroit, during which time he prosecuted innumerable drug cases, enforcing the draconian sentencing laws he now rails against from academia.
Prof. Osler talks to NPR about President Obama's clemency policy and his own federal commutations work.
Osler, the law professor and lawyer for inmates seeking mercy, said he thinks the president believes in the effort. Obama, he said, visited a prison and went to lunch with people who won clemency. The question for the next five months is whether the White House can finish the job, even if it angers some Republicans in Congress, Osler added.
Earlier this month, President Obama made history by commuting the sentences of 214 people in federal prisons. That action, one of the largest exercises of presidential clemency powers since Gerald R. Ford granted pardons to Vietnam draft dodgers and deserters facing prison in 1974, has been hailed by the White House as a sign of Obama’s commitment to clemency.
When President Barack Obama granted clemency to 214 federal inmates last week, University of St. Thomas School of Law professor Mark Osler and several of his former students finally saw the fruits of their labor—some more than five years in the making. On Obama’s list were the names of six men whose freedom they helped make possible.
Through their work as clinical student attorneys in the Federal Commutations Clinic at St. Thomas Law, alumni Marc Spooner ’12, Ashley Bennett ‘13, Derek Hansen ‘13, Eric Hylok ’15 and Jamie Waldon ‘15 directly impacted the lives of three men whose sentences were commuted Aug. 3. An additional three men were helped by Waldon through his work with the Clemency Resource Center at New York University, a pro bono law office that Osler co-founded, where Waldon works alongside Hylok and four other fellows.
Prof. Osler comments in the Star Tribune article, Drug inmate wins release, thanks to University of Minnesota program.
On June 3, 2016, Robert Sleepers received the phone call he had thought about for the past 12 years. Sentenced in June 2004 to a mandatory minimum of 20 years for his role in a non-violent, relatively low-level conspiracy to distribute cocaine, Sleepers admittedly broke the law, but his punishment far exceeded his crime.
For more than 12 years, Sleepers had limited contact with the tight-knit family that supported him throughout his incarceration. He and his family members relied on letters, rare visits, and telephone calls to maintain their tight family bond. On holidays his family members would gather around the phone in one central location to allow each of them to speak with the father and brother they had all missed over the past decade. However, the June 2016 phone call brought news that would change future holidays for Sleepers and his family.
Read more in Newsroom.
Prof. Osler, Director of Federal Commutations Clinic, writes for the Baltimore Sun along with Nkechi Taifa of the Open Society Foundations.
Clinton and Sanders should commit to clemency | The Baltimore Sun | May 19, 2016
Lack of resources, bureaucratic tangles have bogged down Obama’s clemency efforts | The Washington Post
Professor Osler comments in The Washington Post regarding his work with the Clemency Resource Center.
Professor Osler, Director of the Federal Commutations Clinic, is featured in an article in Fusion regarding the Obama Administration's Clemency policy.
This good-looking bunch are the students and supervisors of the of the federal inmate clemency clinic at the law school at the University of St. Thomas. The clinic was founded by Professor Mark Osler, the speaker at Drinking Liberally in Minneapolis on April 28th.
April 1, 2016, IN my pocket is something ancient: a 1,700-year-old Roman coin. It bears three human images and the word “Clementia.” That was the name of the Roman goddess of mercy, who was often depicted standing beside (and holding the hand of) the Roman emperor. The message was clear: Mercy was a virtue not only of individuals but also of governments. The framers of the United States Constitution embraced that tradition when they preserved for the president one of the traditional powers of kings: the pardon power.
That ancient ideal needs to be put into action by President Obama. Despite commuting on Wednesday the sentences of 61 federal prisoners convicted of drug and firearm crimes — bringing his total number of commutations to 248, more than that of his six predecessors combined — he is far from accomplishing the ambitious goals his administration publicly set out two years ago.
University of St. Thomas School of Law Professor Mark Osler spoke at the White House on Thursday, March 31, to discuss and share ideas on President Barack Obama’s clemency initiative alongside other advocates, academics and Administration officials.
Minnesota couple try to help a friend navigate the U.S. Immigration detention system, Prof. Wiebe comments in the Star Tribune
Prof. Wiebe, Director of the Immigration Law Practice Group, comments in the Star Tribune about private immigration detention centers.
Motivated by faith, defense attorney forgives sister's killer, Prof. Osler speaks to Fox 9 News about his conversation with Jeanne
A Conversation with a Former Prosecutor
While Jeanne, her family, and her friends, knew she had forgiven Biro, the killer himself had not heard from Jeanne. That would change following a conversation with Mark Osler, a former federal prosecutor, and a professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis.
“We were at dinner one night, and she was talking about David Biro, and one of the things that came up and she was struggling with how do you forgive someone who’s remorseless. I asked her, ‘how do you know that,’ because she’d never talked to him. She’d never said his name. And she said, ‘well, at trial, he denied everything.’ I said ‘that was when he was 16 years old, that was a long time ago.’ Two decades had passed since then. She had that moment of reflection,” Osler told Fox 9.
Prof. Osler speaks with NPR about the Obama Administration's Clemency Process, New Pardon Chief In Obama Justice Department Inherits A Huge Backlog
"These are not easy questions that are being addressed, and because of that it does take an investment of time and resources," said University of St. Thomas law professor Mark Osler. "It's not the person; it's the process, and this administration has to realize that."
Co-Director George Baboila tweets a photo with Prof. Wiebe as he celebrates the new UST branding with Tommie the Tomcat.
University of St. Thomas School of Law professor Mark Osler recently announced the opening of a unique initiative, a pro-bono, pop-up law office. The Clemency Resource Center (CRC) will be open for only one year and will exclusively prepare petitions for federal clemency.
Osler calls the new operation a “factory of justice” and has the goal of addressing at least 300 clemency cases. The pop-up is housed and co-founded by the Center on the Administration of Criminal Law at New York University School of Law.
New York University School of Law is launching a yearlong pro bono law office that will help federal prisoners seek clemency. Seven full-time attorneys—primarily recent law school graduates—will begin handling prisoners’ applications in August.