Immigrant Justice Clinic

The Immigrant Justice Clinic works to meet the legal needs of Wisconsin’s underserved immigrant community while training law students in cutting-edge aspects of immigration law. Under the supervision of IJC clinical faculty, students provide direct representation to low-income immigrants in removal proceedings, provide assessments of immigration consequences to noncitizens facing criminal charges, and assist immigrants in need of post-conviction relief. Students enrolled in the Humanitarian Law Track (HLT) provide legal services to noncitizen victims of crime, persecution, and human trafficking who are seeking various forms of humanitarian relief. By assuming responsibility for matters affecting low-income immigrants, students gain experience with a holistic, client-centered model of legal representation, and emerge with a deep understanding of the interplay between race, poverty, language, culture, immigration status and the law.

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IJC Successes


Volunteer Opportunities

Community Partners

News & Articles

IJC Successfully Appealed Removal of Hardworking Father
There is no right to a public defender in immigration court--people facing deportation or removal must find and pay for their own attorney if they want representation. IJC took on the appeal of a Mexican man who, concerned for his family's financial situation, chose to forego an attorney and represent himself in immigration court. He did his best to present his case for Cancellation of Removal and Adjustment of Status, but the Immigration Judge denied his application for relief, leaving him to face removal to Mexico despite the medical challenges of his U.S. citizen wife and two children. IJC students located numerous errors in the Immigration Judge's decision, and appealed various aspects of the decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals. On appeal, the three-member panel of the Board of Immigration Appeals wrote a strongly-worded opinion acknowledging multiple legal and factual errors in the Immigration Judge's denial. Consequently, the case will be remanded for proper consideration of the client's eligibility for relief. 

IJC Wins Doubleheader in State Court, Immigration Court
IJC students successfully fought the deportation of a young father of two through efforts in both state and federal immigration court. Client, originally from the Dominican Republic, has been a lawful permanent resident of the United States since the age of five. IJC students met client during one of their monthly visits to immigration detainees held in the Dodge County Jail. Client was facing deportation based on a 2012 conviction for fleeing from the police, and was ineligible for bond. Although he received probation with an imposed and stayed sentence of one year, ICE alleged that client was deportable for an “aggravated felony” based on the one year sentence. IJC students discovered that his criminal defense attorney had incorrectly advised him that his plea would not affect his immigration status. Based on this information, IJC students Chris Russell and Loredana Valtierra filed a successful motion to modify client's sentence in state court to 364 days - one crucial day less than the sentence he was originally given. This one day reduction in his sentence meant client was now eligible to fight his case in immigration court and ask the Immigration Judge to “cancel” his deportation. Russell and Valtierra briefed the case and then conducted the entire hearing in the Chicago Immigration Court, from opening statement through direct exam of witnesses. At the end of the two hour hearing, the Immigration Judge granted his application and canceled his deportation. After five months in ICE custody, client was finally released, joyfully reunited with his family and went home.

IJC Prevents Deportation of Laotian Refugee
IJC students prevented the deportation of Laotian refugee whose family came to the United States when he was four years old. His father is 92 years old and a veteran of the Hmong forces who fought with the United States in the Vietnam War. Both of the client’s parents are now U.S. citizens, as are most of his siblings. He is married to a U.S. citizen and they have 2 young boys. Client struggled with addiction issues and had two marijuana-related convictions. As a result, he was placed in deportation proceedings and held in ICE custody without bond while his case was pending. IJC students Lola Bovell and Alexis Blanco briefed and argued the case in the Chicago Immigration Court. In the summer of 2014, the Immigration Judge granted relief and he was not deported.

IJC Partners with Family Court Clinic to Protect Immigrant Children
IJC’s collaboration with the EJI Family Court Clinic proved successful in the representation of a mother and two young girls from Honduras who fled to the United States to escape severe physical and sexual abuse at the hands of the girls’ father, who has ties to drug trafficking gangs in Honduras. IJC student Liz Bradley and Family Court Clinic student Lynn Lodahl filed a divorce petition for the mother in state court, and were able to overcome jurisdictional and legal hurdles to get the court commissioner to make the necessary findings for the minor girls to be able to petition for “Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.” SIJS is a special form of relief available to undocumented children who cannot be returned to their home country due to abuse, abandonment or neglect.

IJC Wins Appeal for Torture Victim
IJC won an appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals on behalf of a Mexican man who had been tortured by gangs in Mexico. The client had won protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) at the lower court level, but the government appealed the decision. CAT protections relate to the U.S.’s obligations under international law to not return people to countries where they would more likely than not face torture. IJC student Rick Manthe wrote a successful appeal brief on the client’s behalf and the BIA upheld his deferral of removal under CAT.

IJC’s Collaboration with Remington Center Clinic Equals Success
IJC students’ collaboration with other UW law school clinics secures victory for immigrant clients in state court and immigration court. Clinical students Rick Manthe and Liz Bradley worked with student Amanda Kuklinski from the Remington Center’s LAIP program to seek post-conviction relief for a man from the Dominican Republic. The client, who is a lawful permanent resident, had not been properly advised that his plea to a single misdemeanor would result in his deportation. IJC students successfully argued for a bond reduction, allowing him to get out of ICE custody and be reunited with his family as his case proceeded. LAIP students filed a successful motion to withdraw his prior plea and he pled to a new charge that will not result in his deportation. IJC students are now filing a motion to terminate removal proceedings in in the Chicago Immigration Court so our client can keep his lawful status and remain with his family in Milwaukee as he anxiously awaits the birth of his grandchild.

IJC Appeals to the Board of Immigration Appeals for Justice
IJC accepted an appointment by the Board of Immigration Appeal’s Pro Bono Project to assist a lawful permanent resident appeal his deportation order. IJC students Rick Manthe and Michael Chandler wrote a compelling appellate brief on complex areas of immigration and criminal law. As a result, the case was remanded and the government stipulated to a grant of cancellation of removal. The client was released from detention and is now back at home with his wife and 14-year-old U.S. citizen son who suffers from severe autism.

IJC Students Win Cancellation of Removal for Victim of Severe Domestic Violence
IJC clinical students kicked off the 2014 school year with an early win in the Chicago Immigration Court for a Mexican man who was the victim of severe domestic violence at the hands of his U.S. citizen wife. His now ex-wife had stabbed him on two separate occasions, each resulting in him being hospitalized. Our client had lived in the United States for over 12 years and has a 16-year-old daughter with lawful status. Working in collaboration with the UW School of Social Work, IJC students obtained a psychological assessment of the client and his daughter to demonstrate the impact his removal would have on them. In November 2013, students Lola Bovell and Sam Wegleitner successfully argued the case and the immigration judge granted our client cancellation of removal. After spending more than a year in ICE custody, our client was released and has since been reunited with his daughter.

IJC Wins Asylum for Woman Who Feared Female Genital Mutilation
IJC students secured an asylum grant by immigration judge for a Gambian women who feared that she would be forcibly subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) if deported to Gambia. Clinic students prepared the brief and supporting documents, obtained an expert affidavit, and worked with the client to prepare her for testifying in court.


UW-Madison Community-University Partnership Award
The Immigrant Justice Clinic—along with its partner, the Community Immigration Law Center—won a 2014 UW-Madison Community-University Partnership Award. The award is given annually to campus and community partners working together to address critical public issues. The only nonprofit of its kind in Wisconsin, the Immigrant Justice Clinic offers direct legal representation to noncitizens in removal proceedings. The clinic has represented around 70 clients from 20 countries since opening its doors in 2012.

Volunteer Opportunities

The IJC and CILC offer a number of volunteer and internship opportunities. For more information on how you can get involved, please contact IJC Volunteer Coordinator Kai Hovden at

Bilingual Office Volunteers with the Immigrant Justice Center
IJC depends on the support of Spanish-English bilingual office interns to make phone calls, conduct telephone intakes, provide interpretation and translation services, assist clients with filling out immigration applications, and help with general office work.

Intake Volunteers at the Dodge County Jail
One Friday a month, IJC and CILC, in collaboration with LLSA and NIJC, organize visits to the Dodge County Jail in Juneau, WI, which houses an average of 200 ICE detainees. Volunteers conduct one-on-one intakes with detainees for possible representation in removal proceedings.

Intake Volunteers with the Community Immigration Law Center
CILC offers a free legal walk-in clinic every 2nd and 4th Friday of the month to provide legal consultations to Wisconsin's immigrant community. Volunteers conduct intakes on behalf of CILC attorneys with walk-in immigrant clients.

Future Projects
From time to time, IJC and CILC may have a special project or event that we need help with, including community outreach, fundraising and staffing a help-line for families of those in immigration detention. Please contact us if you would like to be notified of future volunteer opportunities.

Community Partners

The IJC works with a variety of community partners to ensure that Wisconsin’s immigrant community has access to high-quality legal information and representation.

The Community Immigration Law Center provides free legal consultations to the Dane County immigrant community. Free legal walk-in clinics are offered at Christ Presbyterian Church on the 2nd and 4th Friday of every month from 2pm – 5pm.

National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC)

The National Immigrant Justice Center is a non-profit legal services organization based in Chicago that serves immigrant communities on a variety of issues including assisting individuals in detention, asylum seekers, victims of domestic abuse, unaccompanied minors and victims of human trafficking.

Wisconsin State Public Defender Immigration Practice Group

The SPD Immigration Practice Group is a resource for public defenders and criminal defense attorneys to understand the immigration consequences noncitizen clients face upon conviction of a crime.

Latino Law Students Association (LLSA)

The Latino Law Students Association is a student organization of the University of Wisconsin Law School. LLSA students collaborated with CILC to establish the Immigrant Justice Center in 2012 with the generous support of the Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment.

Centro Hispano

The Centro Hispano works to improve the quality of life for Latinos in Dane County by empowering youth, strengthening families and engaging the community.

Voces de la Frontera

Voces de la Frontera is Wisconsin’s largest Latino and low-wage worker membership organization and a leading immigrant rights advocacy organization in the state. Their office is in Milwaukee, WI.

Latino Support Network (LaSup)

The Latino Support Network is a consortium of health, community and social service agencies and individuals interested in promoting the well-being of the Latino community in Dane County.

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