On August 5, 2013, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a Ukrainian refugee represented by the Valparaiso Immigration Clinic. The Court harshly rebuked the government’s legal reasoning in the case, and accepted the arguments that the clinic had put forward in its briefs. In the opinion, written by Judge Richard Posner, the Court criticized the Board of Immigration Appeals both for relying on 58-year-old decision based on a repealed statute and for ignoring its other precedent. The Court ultimately found that “[t]he Board has not provided a rational basis for its decision.”
The Immigration Clinic handled the case in its first year of operation. 2013 graduates Yolanda Ruiz, Michelle Golebiewski, Miguel Heras, and Worthe Holt prepared the briefs. Yolanda Ruiz argued the case the week of law school graduation, after numerous moots and many hours of preparation.
Ruiz described the case as “extremely complicated,” and noted that it required the students to dive deeply into immigration law and its application. The client had been living in the United States for many years after coming here as a refugee. He had some common adolescent crimes on his record and encountered a problem when he attempted to visit Canada. Canada denied him entry and upon his return, the United States placed him into removal proceedings.
The Immigration Judge and Board of Immigration Appeals found that he did not qualify for a discretionary waiver of deportation, relying on a 58-year-old case that was based on a now repealed statute, and ignoring another case that would have allowed him to seek the waiver. As a result of the Court’s decision, the client will have another chance to keep his home in the United States.