McGeorge School of Law

Russell’s Victory Keeps Young Family Together

January 20, 2012

Beau Russell won an important decision for McGeorge's Immigration Law Clinic late last semester. Working with Professor Blake Nordahl, the third-year Day Division student was able to prevent a young father of two children from being deported back to Angola.

The client came from the war-torn African nation to Sacramento in his early 20's to go to college. Short of funds after one semester, he dropped out — leaving his immigration status in jeopardy. He applied for asylum, fearing a return to Angola, but in the meantime he met and married a U.S. citizen and they had two children. He dropped his asylum case and applied for immigration status through the marriage with his wife. Unbeknownst to him, however, the government had already begun deportation proceedings after a failure to appear in court following notice being sent to the wrong address. He discovered the deportation dilemma while appearing for a meeting in Sacramento concerning a petition based on his marital status.

"At the time, we took the case and appeared on behalf of the client in San Francisco Immigration Court," Russell said. "We informed the court of our desire to continue the process toward a green card based on the client's marriage to his wife. Our clinic prepared an adjustment of status petition, which included obtaining various documents, affidavits and other evidence.

"After filing the petition with the court, we again appeared on behalf of the client at an individual hearing," Russell said. "At this hearing, we called and questioned the client as a witness and defended the evidence presented in the filing. The judge held that the petition was satisfactory for an adjustment of status filing. We then registered the judgment with the Sacramento office, and the client received a green card a few weeks later."

It was another happy ending for the Immigration Clinic, which in its four years of operation has helped scores of clients navigate the complexities of American immigration law. Russell joined the clinic in spring 2011, and Nordahl kept him on in the summer as a team leader/student manager for the operation. Russell, a San Diego State University graduate and member of the McGeorge Rugby Football Club, has continued his role as team leader for both semesters of the current academic year.

"The clinic has been a rewarding experience, coupling substantive law with active case work," Russell said. "This case was especially rewarding because it allowed me to advocate for a father and husband who can now legally reside in the United States and be with his family."