GW Law School Fall 2003
A Magazine for Alumni and Friends

GW Law Briefs

Clinic Report

Clinic Cases Aid Immigrants

The Immigration Clinic has been handling two prominent cases in recent months.

A Permanent Home

In August 1991, a two-year-old boy from Ethiopia entered the United States with his mother. Since that time, although his parents and sisters were either U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, he lacked immigration status. In April 1999, with the assistance of the GW Law Immigration Clinic, his father filed a preliminary family-based petition on his behalf so his son could obtain his lawful status; but the petition languished at the Immigration and Naturalization Service for nearly five years. In February 2004, after the case was publicized in The Washington Post, the petition was approved. Next, the young man had to apply to an immigration judge for his lawful permanent residence and turned to GW Law’s clinic for help.

The young man, now a senior in high school, testified April 15 on behalf of his application for lawful permanent residence in the United States in the Arlington, Va., courtroom of Judge John M. Bryant. Bryant granted the young man’s application and praised the work of his lawyer, GW Law student Jennifer E. Mitrick. Thanks to the years of efforts from students including Mitrick, James Crescitelli, Lori Katz, Kristine Kassekert, Matthew Haws, Klaudia Hall, Miranda Tsai, Nicole Dabbous, Betsy Young, Sara Vins, and Sanford Holmes, the young man will be eligible to naturalize in 2010.

Seeking Asylum

In Moscow in January 1996, a Russian man was leaving a metro station with a friend, a U.S. citizen employed by the International Monetary Fund on a visit to Moscow, when they were stopped by the police and asked for identification. After a brief conversation, the police officer told him that he “smelled too good to be a guy” and threw his identification back at him, but it fell to the ground. When he bent down to pick it up, the police officer kicked him in the face.

This was just one example of the homophobic persecution that the man suffered throughout his life in Russia at the hands of family, employers, and the police. In 2000, he came to the United States and applied for asylum. He was represented by clinic student Benjamin Zawacki. At his hearing March 21, 2002, the plaintiff testified in graphic detail about the persecution inflicted on him in Russia on account of his status as a gay man. The friend who witnessed the attack at the metro station testified at the hearing. The judge ruled that both the plaintiff and his friend testified credibly—yet he denied the asylum application and ordered the plaintiff removed to Russia. The decision was affirmed by the Board of Immigration Appeals and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

This January, the plaintiff was diagnosed with HIV. Clinic student Mirta Woodall, assisted by clinic students Manuela Hernández and Jennifer E. Mitrick, researched, wrote, and filed with the Board of Immigration Appeals a motion to reopen and a supporting memorandum of law which argued that the plaintiff should be allowed to reapply for asylum as his circumstances had changed. At this time the motion is pending.

Over the years, in addition to this year’s students, the plaintiff has been represented by clinic students Juan Carlos Flamand, Andrew Insenga, Nagasilpa Jujjavarapu, Nura Maznavi, Natalie Norfus, and Emily Parker, and Betsy Young.

Alberto Benitez, Immigration Clinic director

Small Business, Big Impact

The GW Law School Small Business Clinic, directed by professor Susan Jones (in partnership with D.C. Neighborhood Legal Services), hosted a working meeting May 5 to discuss ways to unite Washington groups dedicated to advancing small businesses and fostering microenterprise development and living wage jobs in D.C.

Karl M. Kellner, principal with Booz Allen Hamilton and a leader of the Harlem Small Business Initiative, discusses business development in Washington.

The keynote speaker was Karl M. Kellner, a principal with Booz Allen Hamilton and a leader of the Harlem Small Business Initiative, a volunteer program founded by President Bill Clinton and the company in 2002. The project coordinates the volunteer efforts of business students, community development corporations, and business consultants who provide technical assistance to community businesses. As a result of the initiative, participating businesses have been able to operate more efficiently, stay in the community, and increase the numbers of their employees.

“The Clinton Foundation established HSBI with the goal of providing the best technical and managerial assistance possible to established small businesses in Harlem. Small businesses create most new jobs in America today,” Jones says. “Like HSBI, our D.C. Working Group is an effort to identify committed organizations and volunteers who are passionate and enthusiastic about helping small businesses, promoting self-employment, and creating good jobs in the District.

“We are also pleased to have partnered with D.C. Neighborhood Legal Services to host this community economic development initiative. Our goal is to identify ways to assist local businesses that are creating jobs for D.C. residents.”

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