UHLC Prof. Hoffman: Public’s fear of terrorism is major hurdle for some asylum applicants

Clinical Associate Professor Geoffrey Hoffman, left, and a panel of experts discussed obstacles faced by asylum applicants and ways to overcome them. Joining Hoffman were immigration attorneys, Thomas Ragland from Washington, DC,  Mary Kramer from Miami, and Sui Chung, also from Miami who served as moderator.

Clinical Associate Professor Geoffrey Hoffman, left, and a panel of experts discussed obstacles faced by asylum applicants and ways to overcome them. Joining Hoffman were immigration attorneys, Thomas Ragland from Washington, DC,  Mary Kramer from Miami, and Sui Chung, also from Miami who served as moderator.

Feb. 10, 2016 – Geoffrey Hoffman, director of the University of Houston Law Center’s Immigration Clinic, participated in a panel discussion Monday about overcoming obstacles in representing those seeking asylum from countries torn by terrorist activities.

The panel’s topic, “Fighting Charges of Terrorism: Real and Wrongly-Imputed Bars to Asylum,” was part of a day-long conference on asylum in the face of evolving immigration law and refugee crises in Syria, Central America, and elsewhere.

Josephine Sorgwe, a supervising fellow in the UHLC immigration clinic, today explained immigration court procedures to a group at a northside community center.
Josephine Sorgwe, a supervising fellow in the UHLC immigration clinic, today explained immigration court procedures to a group at a northside community center.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association asylum conference held in San Antonio was designed to provide information, strategies, and tips to help defend clients against erroneous allegations of terrorist sympathies at a time of heightened fear and difficulty in clearly establishing an applicant as victim, villain, or hero.

“This was a valuable opportunity for immigration practitioners from all over the United States to come to San Antonio to receive important information about numerous strategies and topics affecting applicants for asylum, withholding, and also relief under the Convention Against Torture,” said Hoffman, a clinical associate professor. “It was also very timely in light of all the families with children who are facing deportation proceedings in and around Texas at the moment.

“The legal obstacles are many for those who face deportation and especially if they are alleged to be a suspected ‘persecutor of others’ themselves or if they are suspected of having committed a ‘serious non-political offense’ abroad,” he said.

“Other inadmissibility grounds also may apply to family members based on terrorism-related inadmissibility grounds, or TRIGs, involving, for example, those alleged to have provided material support to a designated terrorist organization. Some limited exemptions apply, for example for duress.

“In the immigration clinic, our students have filed a mandamus complaint concerning a TRIG issue and also have been successful in getting a TRIG issue resolved through working with USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) in the context of adjustment of status.”

Today, Hoffman discussed DACA/DAPA litigation and the Supreme Court’s grant of certiorari in U.S. v. Texas before a group at the Leonel Castillo Community Center. Josephine Sorgwe, a supervising fellow in the immigration clinic, also spoke about immigration court procedures.

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