McGeorge School of Law

Asylum Victory in Immigration Court

May 8, 2014

Vallerye and Blake

Second-year student Vallerye Mosquera with Blake Nordahl, supervising attorney of the Immigration Law Clinic.

Vallerye Mosquera, a second-year student participating in the Immigration Clinic, won asylum for her client before the San Francisco Immigration Court on April 25. Vallerye's client was in removal proceedings and faced deportation if her asylum case was unsuccessful.

Upon reflection of the experience, Vallerye commented, "My client was such an integral part of the process. She invested not only her time but also immense emotional energy into the case." She stated that after the decision granting her client asylum, "My client was the absolute happiest person I have ever seen. She told me that 'all the doors and all the windows to the world' had suddenly opened in her life. I will never forget that image of joy across her face."

Vallerye's client fled her native country to escape a lifetime of horrific violence by members of her own family. Despite her accounts of violence, immigration law requires that the violence meet the specific requirements of asylum that often make it incredibly difficult to prove that victims of violence qualify for asylum.

After months of research and preparation, Vallerye was able to establish that her client suffered past persecution on account of her membership as a female member of her family. Furthermore, Vallerye was able to establish that her client's failure to timely file her application was excused based on her mental state when she entered the United States several years ago.

Vallerye participated in the Immigration Clinic in the summer and both semesters of the 2013-2014 academic year. Her two-semester commitment allowed her to begin working with her asylum client this past November. She worked over both the winter and spring breaks to ensure that she and her client were prepared.

The representation required a long process of factual and legal investigation. Supervising attorney Blake Nordahl commented that "the client's past trauma made recalling and sharing facts difficult. Mosquera used the skills she gained in the Immigration Clinic to help her build rapport and trust with her client."

Vallerye submitted a brief in support of the application as well as statements from two expert witnesses and country condition reports. She located a country conditions expert, Lessie Jo Frazier of Indiana University at Bloomington, who provided a detailed, individualized assessment of the country conditions and the client's particular situation. The Clinic was also able to obtain the pro bono services of UC Davis professor Dr. Yvette Flores who provided a mental health evaluation.

At the immigration court hearing, Vallerye conducted direct examination and explained to the court her arguments in support of a grant of asylum. The Immigration Judge found the client credible and agreed with Vallerye's arguments and granted humanitarian asylum. Judge Webber commented that Vallerye's representation was excellent.

Fortunately, government counsel waived appeal and the decision is final. Vallerye is now in the process of helping her client obtain a work permit. In one year, her client will be able to file for lawful permanent residence.

"The most important outcome of this case is that my client will never again face her abusers in her native country," stated Vallerye. "She is safe, and that sense of security here in the United States, away from her abusers, is what this case was all about."

The Immigration Clinic represents low income non-citizens in affirmative applications before USCIS and in removal proceedings before the Immigration Court.