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Immigration Clinic Student Wins Naturalization Victory for Client

By October 30, 2019Law School, STU News

              3L Melissa Martinez (center) with Professor Michael Vastine (right)

In a case over seven years in the making, St. Thomas Law Immigration Clinic student Melissa Martinez (3L) successfully argued that a long-term clinic client was eligible for and deserving of naturalization, notwithstanding a long-ago conviction for theft.

Melissa’s arguments successfully convinced the adjudicating officer that the client’s criminal issue did not trigger an immigration consequence under the “categorical approach” for analyzing state criminal statutes, and that the client’s long period of rehabilitation was dispositive of her “good moral character.” Former clinical students had successfully argued to terminate removal proceedings, and advocated for lawful permanent resident status by raising similar arguments.

The client, now a case manager for homeless persons, took the oath of citizenship last week. Like all Immigration Clinic cases, all advocacy and arguments were done by students, under supervision of Professor Michael Vastine.

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