November 20, 2012

AJMLS Students Make a Difference Within the First Semester of the Immigration Law Clinic


Thanks to Jacky Clements and Crystal Tran, two interns from Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, the U.S. Asylum Office has approved an asylum claim in a unique legal case. The Client was a severally physically and mentally disabled twenty-two year old citizen of an Asian country. Jacky Clements is an intern at the AJMLS/CCA Immigration Law Clinic. Crystal Tran is an extern at AJMLS Adjunct Professor Joseph Rosen’s Immigration Law Group.

Asylum generally requires persecution based upon religion, political activities, race, or nationality. Asylum or refugee status can also be granted if it is determined that an individual has or is likely to be persecuted based on their membership in a particular social group. The physically and mentally disabled are usually not deemed to be in such a group. For a grant of asylum, it must also be shown that the persecution of the group was by the government or that the government did nothing to deter it.

The asylum applicant, although twenty-two years old, functioned at a behavioral level of an eight year old. Through countless hours spent with him and his family, Ms. Clements and Ms. Tran were able to document a childhood spent continually drugged while attending school, a childhood continually abused by his caretakers,  a child banned from public parks and libraries, and a lifetime filled with harassment and abuse by the public. Through extensive research, Ms. Clements and Ms. Tran documented the extreme exploitation, human trafficking, and abuse of the disabled in his home country, despite that country’s assertions of support for the disabled.

Through extensive time spent with the client, Ms. Tran and Ms. Clements developed a rapport with him. They developed evidence and small illuminating anecdotes. They discovered that after being in school in his home country for twenty years, he could not count to 10 nor identify the days of the week. After only 6 months in the U.S., he showed off to the two interns one afternoon by counting to 10 in English and naming the days of the week.  Skills that no one took time to teach him in twenty years of life in his home country. The client would greet Ms. Tran and Ms. Clements with hugs and smiles each time he saw them.

On occasion, there were tears of frustration from the advocates over the lack of legal support for their arguments and the paucity of supporting research documentation.  Hours of work resulted in a moving brief written by the interns and three-hundred pages of supporting documents.  The Asylum Office interviewed the client over a three-hour period and then was presented with the developed arguments. After a month of consideration, the client’s asylum application was approved. Thanks to the work of Crystal Tran and Jacky Clements, a young man has been saved from a life of desperation, abuse, and exploitation. He will now have an opportunity to live a free and independent life in the U.S.  A job well done by two of AJMLS’ students.