CLINIC created the Remote Motions to Reopen Project, or RMTR Project, to address the critical need for competent representation for individuals with final orders of removal who could reopen their proceedings through filing a motion to reopen.
A final order of removal has serious consequences. First and foremost, it puts a person at immediate risk of removal (or deportation) from the United States. Deportation can tear families apart and, for some, it can mean return to a dangerous country where the person faces torture, persecution, or even death. In addition, a prior removal order can make a person ineligible for certain immigration benefits and can prevent a person from returning to the United States even if they are otherwise eligible for a visa.
Yet, many people can reopen proceedings based on new evidence that has come to light since their hearing before the immigration judge. For example, a person might seek to reopen based on new evidence of a mental illness that prevented the individual from effectively presenting their case or evidence of changed conditions in their country of origin that now make it much more dangerous for the person to return. Reopening in circumstances like these could mean the difference between being permanently separated from family in the United States and being permitted to stay in the United States lawfully or might even mean the difference between life and death.
CLINIC’s RMTR Project addresses the critical need for representation on motions to reopen by providing assistance and capacity building in three ways: 1) by representing individuals who have removal orders in cooperation with pro bono attorneys, 2) by mentoring practitioners who are working on motions to reopen, and 3) by offering trainings and educational materials related to motions to reopen.
- CLINIC filed a successful motion to reopen based on exceptional circumstances before the San Antonio Immigration Court on behalf of a Garifuna family from Honduras subject to the Migrant Protection Protocols, or MPP, that was kidnapped on their way to their hearing and held for ransom.
- CLINIC filed a successful motion to reopen proceedings before the Miami Immigration Court on behalf of a Guatemalan mother who had been forcibly separated from her young son when she entered the United States under the Trump administration’s Zero Tolerance policy. She had been unable to effectively present her case to the Immigration Judge due to ineffective assistance of prior counsel and her inability to understand the court interpreter, who spoke a different dialect of Mam.
- After a federal court invalidated a Trump-era change that barred anyone who had traveled through another country on their way to the United States from attaining asylum, CLINIC filed a successful motion to reopen before the Jena Immigration Court on behalf of a Cameroonian man who was granted withholding of removal but denied asylum because he had traveled through other countries while fleeing to the United States. Only receiving withholding of removal meant that he could not reunite with his wife, who remained in danger in Cameroon. CLINIC filed a motion to reopen and successfully won asylum so that his wife could join him in the United States.
- CLINIC filed a successful motion to reopen before the New Orleans Immigration Court on behalf of two young children who had been forcibly separated from their mother when they entered the United States under the Trump administration’s Zero Tolerance policy. They had missed their immigration court hearing because gang members murdered a family member just days before their hearing and their mother, who was already dealing with compounded trauma, was too distraught to get them to their hearing.
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