November 9, 2010
Katie Oldham, '11, and Dustin Bankston, '11, won a notable victory on October 26, 2010, in the San Francisco Immigration Court. They won release from immigration detention for a client who prior to their intervention had no legal representation for many months.
"The client is a long-time Sacramento resident, who had received a number of controlled substance personal-use convictions," said Professor Blake Nordahl, the clinical supervising attorney. "She had survived a difficult youth that included repeated sexual assault by a relative. After falling into heavy drug use over the years, she was arrested several times. Her most recent conviction resulted in her being placed in immigration detention where she remained throughout the representation."
Bankston and Oldham, two of seven students participating in the semester-long Immigration Law Clinic, prepared the brief and exhibits in support, prepared their client for the hearing, conducted direct examination and provided closing arguments. They even found a six-month inpatient drug treatment program for their client, and were able to get her enrolled by calling Loaves and Fishes every day for a month.
"The immigration judge was impressed with the students' work and ultimately granted relief," Nordahl said. "The client will now keep her permanent resident status. The government declined to appeal so she was released the night of the hearing."
"This case is an example of the more complex immigration cases that Blake is taking on in our Immigration Law Clinic," said Dorothy Landsberg, Interim Director of Clinical Studies. "It means we are providing a richer educational experience for our clinical students and an opportunity for them to make a difference in the real world."
The San Francisco Immigration Court falls under the jurisdiction of the Office of the Chief Immigration Judge, which is a component of the Executive Office for Immigration Review under the United States Department of Justice.