Immigration Clinic: Cases, Projects & Resources

Immigration Clinic

 Resources for Detainees in Immigration Proceedings

The Immigration Clinic has created self-help flyers and other resources for detainees in Immigration proceedings to use when applying for legal relief. These resources are meant to guide detainees through the difficulties of immigration law, but do not constitute legal advice.

Because immigration law and procedure can be complicated and winning a case is difficult, detainees are encouraged to seek the assistance of a lawyer. People who are proceeding without a lawyer and anyone who would like more detailed information about the topics discussed here should visit the law library of the detention center or jail where they are detained.

I. Representing Yourself in Immigration Court

II. Detention

III. Other Topics

IV. Other Resources:

 Detainee Conditions

Students conduct "Know Your Rights" presentations for detainees and monitor conditions in Florida jails that hold immigrants for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). After visits to Glades County Detention Center in Moorehaven, Florida, students wrote letters of concern to jail and ICE officials. (See UM Law Immigration Clinic Letter of Concern to Jail and ICE Officials: May 30, 2017, January 19, 2016November 1, 2013, October 8, 2012October 7, 2011.

After one of these letters, the Sheriff's Office wrote a memorandum in response. Students are calling for ICE not to renew its contract with Glades. For news coverage, click here to read the Daily Business Review article and click here to listen to the WLRN Radio story.

 Stopping Deportations to Haiti

The Immigration and Human Rights Clinics began a collaborative effort in January 2011 to halt deportations to Haiti in view of the ongoing effects of the January 2010 earthquake, the cholera epidemic, and political unrest. Read more about this collaborative effort.

HAITI REPORT - Aftershocks: The Human Impact of U.S. Deportations to Post-Earthquake Haiti
In 2015, the Immigration Clinic and Human Rights Clinic, along with other groups, worked to publish a report documenting the stories of the men and women deported from the United States to post-earthquake Haiti on account of a criminal history. Read More.

 Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Eligibility

The Clinic sought guidance from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) about whether certain criminal dispositions constitute misdemeanors within the meaning of the Temporary Protect Status statute and regulation (see letter requesting guidance). In response to the Clinic's request, USCIS issued guidance stating that a conviction in which criminal court had certified that the defendant would receive no jail time falls outside the definition of a misdemeanor for TPS eligibility.

The Clinic had requested guidance because Florida courts routinely certify in minor cases that the defendant will not receive any jail time, thus taking away indigent defendants' right to an attorney at government expense. Because the TPS regulation specifies that a misdemeanor is a crime "punishable by imprisonment for a term of one year or less," convictions obtained after a "no jail" or "no incarceration" certification fall outside the TPS definition of misdemeanor.

In its January 21, 2011 guidance, USCIS agreed with the Clinic's position.

 Challenging Unlawful Government Actions: Motions to Suppress, Damage Lawsuits

The Clinic challenges unlawful government actions against immigrants by litigating motions to suppress evidence and terminate immigration court proceedings and civil damage actions. The suppression case, Jimenez v. U.S. Attorney General, is scheduled for oral argument before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. The Jimenez case challenges the actions of local police who exceeded the scope of their arrest authority by enforcing civil immigration law, in violation of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision Arizona v. United States. Read the Clinic's opening brief to the Eleventh Circuit, the government's response, the Clinic's reply, and the amicus brief filed by American Immigration Council.

In another suppression case, an immigration judge excluded unlawfully obtained evidence and terminated removal proceedings after finding that local police physically mistreated the Clinic's client and detained him until immigration agents arrived. Click here to read the immigration judge's decision in this case.

The Clinic recently resolved a federal damages lawsuit filed on behalf of an immigrant who was attacked by a detention officer at Krome Service Processing Center. To read about this case, click here.


Florida Defender
The Immigration Clinic has undertaken multiple efforts to ensure that the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision in Padilla v. Kentucky is properly implemented in Florida.Here are the amicus briefs in cases dealing with the implementation of the Supreme Court's decision in Padilla.

Hernandez v. State AILA Amicus Brief to Florida Supreme Court

Hernandez v. State AILA S. Florida Amicus 

Diaz v. State of Florida AILA S. Florida Amicus 

AILA Amicus Flores v. State of Florida  

 Florida Criminal Offenses & Immigration Law

The Immigration Clinic of the University of Miami School of Law provides training and information attorneys who represent indigent immigrant defendants in the criminal justice system. To request a training for your office, e-mail Rebecca Sharpless,

Practice advisories

The Clinic has authored practice advisories on the immigration consequences of certain Florida criminal offenses: 

Click here for a practice advisory on Florida's burglary statute.

Click here for a practice advisory on removal defense and Florida drug crimes

Amicus briefs

The Clinic has authored amicus briefs (see "PADILLA V. KENTUCKY" above for downloadable briefs) relating to the United States Supreme Court's decision in Padilla v. Kentucky, which held that defense counsel have a constitutional duty to advice about immigration consequences.

Additional Resources


Immigration Clinic
University of Miami School of Law
1311 Miller Drive, E273
Coral Gables, FL 33146
Phone: 305-284-6092
Fax: 305-284-6093


Rebecca Sharpless, Director and Professor of Clinical Legal Education

Romy LernerRomy Lerner, Associate Director & Lecturer in Law


Haiti Report
Click here for PDF version.

University of Miami School of Law students call for shutdown of immigration detention in Glades County Jail.
University of Miami School of Law students call for shutdown of immigration detention in Glades County Jail.

Immigration Clinic Achieves Justice for Detainee Abused on Basis of Sexual Orientation.Immigration Clinic Achieves Justice for Detainee Abused on Basis of Sexual Orientation.

2L Alanna McCoy, delivered the clinic's presentation before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
2L Alanna McCoy, delivered the clinic's presentation before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Click for Additional News Releases/Media