three people standing outside the courthouse in Rochester, NY.

From left, Nicole Hallett, a Buffalo law school professor, and her students, Chloe Nowak and Alexander Buszka, outside the U.S. District Court in Rochester, N.Y., on Feb. 25, 2019.

Photo Credit: Lauren Rock for The Intercept

Immigration Law Students Fight Unjust Deportation in New York

Published March 12, 2019

UB law students receive a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to train under famous lawyers and help prevent an unjust deportation in New York state.

A group of UB Law students, including Chloe Nowak and Alexander Buszka, got an unexpected introduction to the practical applications of immigration law by assisting in the fight against the deportation of Kinimo Ngoran, an immigrant who made a home for himself in Albany, NY. Sarah Gillman and Gregory Copeland contacted UB School of Law professor Nicole Hallett to help argue Ngoran’s case in Rochester, and she pulled two students in to assist with legal briefs. On February 25, 2L Chloe Nowak stood before a judge for the first time to argue Ngoran’s case.

If the verdict comes in their favor, all who assisted with the case will have helped set a precedent for future deportation cases in New York.

Studying Immigration Law in Buffalo

Typically, we think of the U.S.-Mexico border as the main point of contention in immigration - but New York is a popular entry point for Canadian asylum seekers (via Buffalo) and has historically been very welcoming to refugees - the city took in 15,380 refugees from 2002 - 2017.

Approximately 22% of New York’s population are immigrants, according to data from the Office of the New York State Comptroller. A few more highlights from the report:

  • In 2014, New York was home to almost 4.4 million immigrants, second only to California
  • From 2010 - 2015, 12% of all immigrants migrated to New York
  • New York ranks third as the destination for refugees admitted to the U.S. (behind TX & CA)
  • The immigrant unemployment rate in New York is 5.4%, compared to the total state average of 6.3%
  • 8.6% of Buffalo’s population are immigrants

Because of this, Buffalo has historically been a destination for those who want to study immigration law. Recently, the UB School of Law also opened their U.S.-Mexico Border Clinic, a three-week intensive boot camp on refugee and asylum law that includes a trip to the South Texas Family Detention Center.

Immigration law is a highly controversial field that’s been spotlighted more in the last few years than ever before. ICE practices, including detention and deportation, have been under intense scrutiny.

With well-trained immigration lawyers like Gillman and Copeland, and a little support from the community, we can make forward strides to reform unjust immigration practices. To quote Nicole Hallett,

“It shouldn’t take a village to get someone out of immigration detention. We should have a system that treats people like human beings and recognizes their humanity; we need to reform our system so that this herculean effort isn’t necessary. But at this point, it is necessary.”

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Guest blogger Ashley Wilson-Rew is Content Strategist & SEM at protocol 80, Inc.

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