June 22, 2012
May graduate Raissa Morris received thrilling news on June 19, 2012, when she found out she had won the McGeorge Immigration Law Clinic's first asylum approval for a client who was in the midst of removal proceedings.
Morris, a clinic participant during the 2011-12 academic year, had argued the hearing in April at the San Francisco Immigration Court. The case dealt with whether battered women constitute a social group for asylum, an unsettled area of the law.
"Raissa worked countless hours with her client and on the case," clinic supervising attorney Blake Nordahl said. "She put together an amazing brief, obtained expert witnesses, and prepared her client, barely an adult, for direct and cross-examination. Raissa conducted direct exam during the four-hour hearing and presented closing arguments. The judge and the government counsel complimented her high level of preparation and professionalism."
Morris' case was the subject of a presentation to the University of the Pacific Board of Regents at its April meeting in Sacramento. "We had just completed the hearing the week before the regents' meeting and we were sure they would be proud of the work being done in our clinic, Nordahl said. "Several members expressed interest in learning the outcome. The government has 30 days to appeal. Hopefully, there will be no appeal and the decision will be final."
Morris served as a volunteer interpreter for the clinic in her second year at McGeorge. She also worked at each of the law school's three highly successful citizenship fairs. She is studying on campus for the July bar exam and hopes to practice immigration law in northern California when she becomes an attorney.