Immigrant Justice Clinic wins Community-University Partnership Award

The Immigrant Justice Clinic—along with its partner, the Community Immigration Law Center—has 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.

The Immigrant Justice Clinic and its partners
receive the award from Chancellor Rebecca Blank.

Based at University of Wisconsin Law School, IJC is open to second and third-year law students working under the supervision of Professor Stacy Taeuber, the clinic’s director. Taeuber says her students are called to litigate on behalf of clients who face wide-ranging, complex legal issues—and who, under immigration law, have no right to court-appointed counsel. Some clients are seeking asylum, some came to the United States as children, and some are victims of domestic abuse and other crimes. Most have established strong family ties here, after living in the U.S. for many years.

In one case, IJC students successfully represented a Mexican man who was in removal proceedings. The victim of severe domestic abuse, he had required hospitalization on two separate occasions for stab wounds inflicted by his ex-wife, a U.S. citizen. His case was complicated by his own two previous misdemeanor convictions.

“However, by collaborating with the School of Social Work, our students were able to prove the harmful impact our client’s removal would have had on his teenaged daughter,“ Taeuber says.

“Students conducted the entire trial, including opening statements, direct examination of witnesses and closing argument. After our client spent more than a year in immigration detention, the judge finally ruled in his favor, and he was subsequently granted lawful permanent residence.”

As part of their work with the Community Immigration Law Center, clinic students also volunteer at the semimonthly walk-in clinics held at the center, and the two organizations join forces to offer “Know Your Rights” presentations to community groups.

Other partners include Centro Hispano in Madison, Voces de la Frontera in Milwaukee, and the Wisconsin State Public Defenders Office. As well, IJC has collaborated on several cases with other Law School clinics.

The Immigrant Justice Clinic is one of several honorees that accepted a 2014 Community-University Partnership Award on June 3. Other campus programs include:

  • COMETS (Creating Opportunities in Math, Engineering, Technology and Science), Institute for Biology Education
  • Dane County African American Prostate Cancer Initiative, Cancer Health Disparities Inititaive in the School of Medicine and Public Health
  • Family Voices Community-University Partnership, Community-University Exchange, School of Human Ecology, and Slow Food UW
  • Growing Farm to School, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Departments of Nutritional Sciences and Landscape Architecture, and the School of Medicine and Public Health
  • Menominee Journey to Wellness, Collaborative Center for Health Equity in the School of Medicine and Public Health
  • The South Madison Project, School of Human Ecology and the Department of Urban and Regional Planning
  • Water Stewardship with the Bad River Ojibwe, Department of Life Sciences Communication and the Nelson Institute

Submitted by Tammy Kempfert on June 19, 2014

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