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Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions

Immigration Clinic I (Fall 2019)

Course Description

Co-taught with Jean Lantz Reisz

Administrative Matters - Immigration Clinic is a full year course and must be taken in the Fall (Imm Clinic I) and Spring (Imm Clinic II).  If you are considering enrolling in the Immigration Clinic, be aware of the possibility of a scheduling conflict (with other courses, employment, or externships) during the academic year.  Do not enroll in the Immigration Clinic in the Fall semester if you are concerned about a possible scheduling conflict in the Fall or Spring semesters.  If you are planning on working during the Fall or Spring semester and will work significant hours or have an inflexible schedule, or if you are planning on enrolling in an Externship during either semester, you may want to consider not enrolling in the Immigration Clinic.  Most of the deadlines in the Clinic are imposed by a court or an agency.  Clinic students who have significant or inflexible non-clinic commitments will find it difficult to perform well in the Clinic.  If you intend to work or if your schedule may be inflexible, you should discuss this issue with one of the professors before enrolling in the Clinic. 

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, students who are not U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents should discuss their immigration status with one of the professors before enrolling in the Clinic.

Students should ideally have access to car.  Many of the Clinic’s clients are detained at local ICE detention facilities outside of Los Angeles.  Public transportation is not practical given the remote location of some of the facilities (e.g. Adelanto and Otay Mesa).  If a student does not have access to a car, it is still possible to enroll in the Clinic, but be advised that it may not be possible to have such students represent detained clients and will limit the type of cases the student handles within the Clinic.

The Clinic meets in a classroom setting for 2 ½ - 3 hours per week.  Students also meet on a weekly basis with one or both professors for case review.  Attendance at class and other Clinic meetings is mandatory.  Additionally, at the beginning of the Fall semester (probably during the first 4 weeks of the semester) there will be 2 or 3 supplemental class meetings devoted to covering material necessary to be brought up to speed on active Clinic cases.  Attendance at these supplemental class sessions is mandatory.  We will finalize the supplemental class schedule at our first regular class session.  These 2 or 3 supplemental class sessions may be scheduled over the lunch hour or at the end of the day in order to fit into our various schedules.

Course Description - The classroom component of the Clinic will provide students with an understanding of the relevant substantive law, procedural rules, and skills necessary to represent clients of the Clinic. In addition to the weekly class, Clinic students will need to commit on average approximately 20 hours per week to case work, Clinic office duties, and weekly case review meetings with one or both professors.  The amount of time spent on Clinic work each week will vary; in some weeks it will be more than 20 hours and in others less.

The Immigration Clinic provides representation to indigent clients in a variety of different types of cases with a focus on asylum and other applications for relief from removal (deportation).  Some of the Clinic's clients are victims of torture, including rape, or other forms of severe violence. In some of the cases the client's life or freedom is at stake.  Client availability, DHS and Immigration Court logistics, and, to the extent possible, the individual student's area of interest, will determine the type and number of cases on which a student will work.  Students will represent clients before the Immigration Court, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), and possibly a federal court.  Student representation of clients is provided and authorized by DHS and Justice Department student practice rules under the supervision of a professor. Client referral relationships exist between the Clinic and several other organizations.  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.  Clinic students will need to travel to the detention facilities.

The Immigration Clinic I is offered CR/D/F during the Fall semester.  During the Spring Semester, Immigration Clinic II may be taken for a numerical grade or CR/D/F.  There is no final examination.  Within reason, students will be required to work on cases during the final exam period since there is no final exam.  Prior or concurrent enrollment in Immigration Law (when offered) is helpful, but Immigration Law is not a pre- or co-requisite.  Enrollment in the Clinic is limited to eight students. If the Clinic is fully enrolled at the time of your registration contact the Registrar’s Office in person or by telephone (213-740-2523) and ask to be placed on the course waiting list.  The Clinic is five units per semester.  Contact Professors Reisz or Frenzen prior to registration if you have additional questions about the Clinic:  nfrenzen@law.usc.edu or jreisz@law.usc.edu. 

Course Requisites - Ability to enroll in the Clinic in both Fall and Spring semesters (be aware of possible Spring course conflicts - see details above).  Students with inflexible or significant work or externship commitments should see caveat above.  Students who are not U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents should see a professor before enrolling (see details above). Students who do not have access to a car may have more limited opportunities in the Clinic (see details above).

Course Details

  • Unit Value: 5
  • Grading Options: CR/D/F Only
  • Exam: None
  • Writing Requirement: Yes with submission of the Upper Division Writing Requirement Form.
  • Skills/Experiential Unit Requirement: yes
  • Participation: Required and graded