McGeorge School of Law

Immigration Clinic Goes to Probate Court

January 13, 2014

In December, McGeorge Immigration Clinic obtained its first Special Immigrant Juvenile Status "SIJS" order in Probate Court. Vallerye Mosquera, a second year law student, is representing a Guatemalan teenager who is facing deportation, and the order is the first step in applying for permanent residency here in the United States through an application specifically for minors.

The young client made the over 1,200 mile-journey from Guatemala to the United States all on his own. In Guatemala, he was forced to leave school at the age of 13 to help support his family, and he faced a daily struggle with hunger and poverty. Now, he lives with his older brother and comments that he "feels safe and always has enough to eat now."

Vallerye met with and consulted with the minor at a Clinic outreach event barely 3 months before the applicant would turn 18 years old. The findings by the probate judge would need to be made before the client's next birthday. Unfazed by the looming deadline, the Clinic Supervisor Blake Nordahl accepted the challenge, and he advised Vallerye that the Clinic could take on the case.

Over the following three months, Vallerye researched both state probate law and federal immigration law and prepared the motion for the SIJS order. This was no easy feat and involved issues of civil procedure, immigration law, and international law. Vallerye also had to explain the process and options to the client and his family members in Guatemala. The experience offered a valuable lesson in the importance of cross-cultural lawyering and served to solidify Vallerye's interest in practicing immigration law.

After all the hard work, and with substantial support of local attorneys David Meyers, Matt Austin, and Julie Turner Lloveras, Vallerye went to Probate Court on December 17th, and successfully obtained the SIJS order from Judge Krueger. Now, due to Vallerye's hard work, legal skills and compassion for her client, he has an opportunity to apply to remain in the United States as a permanent resident and continue to live with his older brother. He is already in school and doing well. Supervising Attorney Blake Nordahl commented that similar opportunities to gain legal skills and to make a life changing difference for their client's are available for motivated students in the Clinic.