Yolanda Ruiz, a third-year law student at Valparaiso University Law School argued before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of a client as a member of the Valparaiso Law Immigration Clinic.
Ruiz, along with fellow students Michelle Golebiewski, Miguel Heras, and Worthe Holt, began working on this specific case in January. At that time, the client had already been granted an appeal and the students were tasked with writing the appeal brief, a reply brief, and then presenting oral arguments.
Ruiz described the case as “extremely complicated,” and 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. Upon his return, the US placed him into removal proceedings. The students’ brief reflected that this individual is stateless and should not be deported. They argued that he should qualify for a 212(h) waiver.
Oral arguments were held before Judges Richard A. Posner, Ilana Diamond Rovner, and Daniel A. Manion of the 7th Circuit Court.
“Arguing before the panel was a bit intimidating, especially as a law student who has read a number of Judge Posner’s opinions,” Ruiz said.
She had several practice moots with various professors at the law school and immigration attorneys from Chicago before her oral argument at the 7th Circuit.
This is the first year that the Valparaiso Law Immigration Clinic has been in existence, led by Professor Geoffrey Heeren. The clinic is run out of the school’s Hyde Park location and has had much success this year with all of its clients.