Student’s Dedication Helps Clinic Score Its First Victory for Trafficking Victims

Monday, March 7, 2016

Berkeley Law – By Andrew Cohen

It was high-stakes for the East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC), representing a trafficking victim for the first time. It was high stakes for EBCLC student Asher Waite-Jones ’16, pursuing a visa for a detained client badly in need of help. And it was the highest of stakes for Lynden, who asked not to use her last name, an undocumented transgender woman from Belize facing possible deportation.

“Trafficking victims are particularly vulnerable, and we’re trying to reach out to this population and develop our expertise,” said Linda Tam, the director of EBCLC’s Immigration Program. “We’re one of only a few nonprofits in the Bay Area providing this service, so it’s an area of great need that we’d like to fill.”

Formed by Berkeley Law students in 1988, EBCLC is now the East Bay’s largest provider of free legal services—and the school’s largest clinical offering. Each year, more than 100 students help the clinic serve more than 5,000 clients in several placement areas.

EBCLC worked closely with Lynden, who was picked up by police in 2000 after overstaying the temporary visa she had obtained in 1983 to visit her mother in the United States. She was placed into removal proceedings by immigration authorities who sought to deport her for not having legal permission to be in the U.S. Because she never received notice of the court hearing, she did not attend and was ordered removed. Almost 15 years later, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) showed up at Lynden’s door and detained her based on the prior removal order.

ICE was in the process of obtaining a passport for Lynden—to deport her to Belize—when she contacted EBCLC for help. Relying on the hearing notice issue, Tam managed to get the removal order rescinded and Lynden’s case re-opened. Continue reading…

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