Immigrant Rights Clinic staves off deportation for client after six-year struggle

February 06, 2024

The Immigrant Rights Clinic at NYU Law has secured an important victory in the Second Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals for its client Lincoln Junior Smith. After a six-year legal struggle, Smith, a Jamaican-born United States lawful permanent resident who had been charged with removal for past offenses, is now eligible for discretionary relief from deportation. While the government transferred him in and out of detention centers across the country, he fought a legal battle to protect himself from deportation. “In immigration law, there’s this term called ‘aggravated felony’ where something doesn’t have to be aggravated, and it doesn’t have to be a felony,” says Professor of Clinical Law Nancy Morawtez ’81, who co-directs the Immigrant Rights Clinic. And we do a lot of that work in our clinic.”In Fall 2021, after being contacted by the Immigrant Defense Project and Make the Road New York, the Immigrant Rights Clinic took on Smith’s case and began working on an appeal.

The Immigrant Rights Clinic at NYU Law has secured an important victory in the Second Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals for its client Lincoln Junior Smith. After a six-year legal struggle, Smith, a Jamaican-born United States lawful permanent resident who had been charged with removal for past offenses, is now eligible for discretionary relief from deportation.

Smith spent nearly five years in immigration detention.  While the government transferred him in and out of detention centers across the country, he fought a legal battle to protect himself from deportation. But in April 2021, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) deemed Smith ineligible to apply for relief from deportation on the grounds that his past conviction for drug possession near a park constituted an aggravated felony.

“In immigration law, there’s this term called ‘aggravated felony’ where something doesn’t have to be aggravated, and it doesn’t have to be a felony,” says Professor of Clinical Law Nancy Morawtez ’81, who co-directs the Immigrant Rights Clinic. “It’s a very misleading term. But if you have one of those [aggravated felonies], you can’t seek equitable relief. You can’t seek asylum. There are lots of things that you’re not allowed to do. That’s why there are so many battles around this categorization and what it means. And we do a lot of that work in our clinic.”

In Fall 2021, after being contacted by the Immigrant Defense Project and Make the Road New York, the Immigrant Rights Clinic took on Smith’s case and began working on an appeal.

The source of this news is from New York University

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