The LSU Law Center Immigration Clinic, initiated in spring 2009 as part of the Center’s expanded Clinical Legal Education Program, is off to a successful start. As the first fully functioning in-house live-client clinic, law students directly represent indigent immigrant victims of crime and domestic violence as well as immigrants facing deportation.
“The immigration clinic provides valuable experience for our students and valuable services for its indigent clients,” commented Chancellor Jack Weiss. “This clinic is yet another indicator of the quality of the clinical programs that we are building.”
The clinic is directed and supervised by Professor Ken Mayeaux. “We recognize the dire need for representation of immigrants detained in rural Louisiana jails far from their U.S. families,” said Professor Mayeaux. “As the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) enhances its efforts at immigration enforcement nationally, Louisiana, with its more than 3,000 available immigration detention beds, has received many transfers of immigration detainees from the more congested detention centers around the country,” he concluded.
To address the needs of these detainees, the LSU Immigration Clinic runs a monthly “Know Your Rights” program at one of Louisiana’s four remote immigration detention centers in the state and regularly defends detained immigrants facing deportation and separation from their families here in the United States.
A number of noteworthy cases have been handled by the LSU Law Immigration Clinic
There was the case of “Linda,” a Central American teenager fleeing sexual exploitation and domestic violence. Our students were successful in helping her to obtain special immigrant juvenile protection and permanent residence in the United States.
Clinic students also helped “José” obtain a special crime-victim visa after an alleged serial murderer robbed him and shot him in the head. Jose was left for dead on the railroad tracks. He also lost his leg when he was unable to get out of the way of the oncoming railcars.
Clinic students helped “Susan” obtain asylum in the United States after she fled her home country in Africa. Susan was threatened with genital mutilation and sexual violence by local tribes.
Another clinic student assisted “Elena” in obtaining law enforcement certification—the first step in obtaining a special crime-victim visa. The visa came 10 years after she had been raped and provided the crucial court testimony that sent the serial rapist away for life.
Through the Clinical Legal Education program, the Law Center offers third-year students the opportunity to practice law by representing indigent clients in the Baton Rouge community. Students practice in local courts, before administrative agencies and other venues.
The Law Clinic is a self-contained legal services office located in the Law Center where students are certified to practice law pursuant to Louisiana Supreme Court Rule XX. In addition to the Immigration Legal Services Clinic, current clinic offerings include a Domestic Violence Clinic, a Juvenile Representation Clinic, and a Family Mediation Clinic. More clinical offerings are planned in the future.
The Law Center also offers numerous externship opportunities including the Judicial Externship Program that places students as judicial ‘law clerks’ in state and federal courts; the Louisiana Department of Justice Externship that places students with the Attorney General’s Office; the Louisiana Department of Revenue Externship; and Internal Revenue Externship that places students with the IRS Office of Chief Counsel. The Law Center also offers students the opportunity to tailor an externship experience to their own specific interest through the Individualized Externship Program.