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Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions

Immigration Detention and Appellate Clinic (Spring 2019)

Course Description

Course Description: The Immigration Detention and Appellate Clinic is a one-semester clinical course where students represent non-citizens in appellate matters before the Board of Immigration Appeals and the U.S. Court of Appeals, and in petitions for writs of habeas corpus before the U.S. District Court. The cases will usually involve the appeal of an order of removal and a denial of an application for relief from removal by an immigration judge or the refusal by an immigration judge to release a detained non-citizen on bond during the removal hearing process.  Most of the cases will involve situations where the client is seeking asylum, protection under the Convention Against Torture, or other forms of humanitarian protection.  Students will review the immigration court record, including transcripts of hearings, interview the client (who will usually be detained in a local ICE detention center), conduct research, develop a theory of the appeal, file appropriate motions, and write an appellate brief or habeas petition. Students will acquire an understanding of the complex law governing immigration relief and appellate review.  Students will also acquire practical skills, including advanced persuasive writing techniques and cross-cultural client communication. 

There will be a weekly seminar for the Immigration Detention and Appellate Clinic which will provide students with an understanding of the relevant substantive law, procedural rules, and skills necessary to represent clients. In addition to the weekly seminar, Clinic students will need to commit on average approximately 10-12 hours per week to case work and periodic (weekly at the beginning of the semester, possibly every other week later in semester) meetings with clinical professors/attorney supervisors.  Some of the Clinic's clients are detained at one of the regional DHS/ICE detention facilities in Orange County, Adelanto, and San Diego/Otay Mesa.  If a student’s client is detained, the student will need to travel to meet with the client at least once.

The Immigration Detention and Appellate Clinic is four units and may be taken for a numerical grade or CR/D/F.  There is no final examination.  Enrollment in the Clinic is limited to four students.  Feel free to contact Professor Jean Reisz prior to registration if you have additional questions about the Clinic.  She can be reached at jreisz@law.usc.edu.

Course Requisites: None.  Prior or concurrent enrollment in Immigration Law would be helpful, but is not a pre- or co-requisite. 

Additional Important Information:  Students who are not U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents should see the professor before enrolling. Students who do not have access to a car may have more limited opportunities in the Clinic due to the need to travel to detention facilities. Public transportation and Uber/Lyft are not options at some detention facilities.

Due to the need to produce government-issued identity documents when seeking entry to immigration detention facilities and jails and due to the fact that Clinic work may require a student to pass through internal Border Patrol checkpoints (e.g. at San Clemente), students who are not U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents should discuss their immigration status with the professor before enrolling in the Clinic. It may still be possible for such students to enroll in the Clinic.

Course Details

  • Unit Value: 4
  • Grading Options: Numerical or CR/D/F
  • Schedule: M 2:30 pm - 4:30 pm
  • Exam: None
  • Skills/Experiential Unit Requirement: Yes
  • Participation: Required and graded
  • Enrollment Limitation: 4 students