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University of Houston Law Center names Anna Cabot Director of the Immigration Clinic

Tracy Hester, instructional associate professor and Co-Director of the Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources Center at UHLC

J. Anna Cabot, University of Houston Law Center Clinical Associate Professor and Immigration Clinic Director

Oct. 31, 2023 — Clinical Associate Professor J. Anna Cabot is now running the Immigration Clinic at the University of Houston Law Center. Cabot, who took on the director role this fall, emphasized the importance of the Immigration Clinic for both students and the community.

"Clinics are a crucial step between being a law student and a practicing lawyer," said Cabot. "Clinic students function as their client’s lawyer, with all of the responsibility this entails, under the guidance of an experienced attorney. Practicing law for the first time, if you will, with a safety net. Students learn lawyering skills and how to engage in the complex process of legal problem solving. Finally, students are helping address a genuine legal need and can have life-changing effects on their clients. This is particularly true in immigration law, where we have the chance to make a real impact on the community in Houston. I am thrilled to be part of an institution that encourages students to engage with real-world legal issues from day one."

Before joining the University of Houston Law Center, Cabot taught in clinics at the American University Washington College of Law and the University of Connecticut School of Law. She also worked at the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies in San Francisco, Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso, and Asylum Access—Tanzania in Dar es Salaam.

Cabot highlighted the changing landscape of asylum laws and regulations.

"We are currently facing highly restrictive asylum policies that make it challenging for individuals to come to the United States and even apply for asylum, much less prove eligibility and get protection. The government's approach to asylum contradicts the founding principles of our country, violates our international law obligations, and echoes dangerously other times in our history when we closed our borders to those who needed it the most.”

She also commented on the importance of representation, noting that immigrants seeking protection do not have a right to counsel, though their very lives may be on the line. Some studies have shown that having a lawyer can improve an asylum-seeker’s likelihood of being granted asylum by as much as 600 to 1000%. Not only is the benefit of legal representation significant, but it is also difficult to attain. About 44% of all immigrants have counsel, and the number drops to 14% of detained immigrants. The students taking asylum cases in the clinic are providing crucial representation to those in need.

The Immigration Clinic, founded in 1999 by Joseph A. Vail a former immigration judge and University of Houston Law Center professor, handles asylum applications for victims of torture, domestic violence, human trafficking and other immigration-related matters.

The Immigration Clinic with the financial support of grants from the Texas Access to Justice Foundation and private donors maintains an active case list of upwards of 100 immigration cases. The Immigration Clinic litigated before the U.S. Court of Appeals in the 5th, 9th and 11th Circuits and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Additional University of Houston Law Center Immigration Clinic staff include:

  • Clinical Supervising Attorney Leticia Leal
  • Senior Clinical Supervising Attorney Vanessa Lopez
  • Law Clerks Tamilla Suleymanova and Namratha Satish Kumar
  • Contract Attorneys Rehan Alimohammad and R. Parker Sheffy

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University of Houston Law Center media contacts: Carrie Anna Criado, UH Law Center Assistant Dean of Communications and Marketing, 713-743-2184, cacriado@central.uh.edu; Bonnie Buffaloe, Communications Manager, 713-743-9137, blbuffaloe@uh.edu.

About the University of Houston Law Center

The University of Houston Law Center (UHLC) is a dynamic, top-tier law school located in the nation’s 4th largest city. UHLC’s Health Law, Intellectual Property Law, and Part-time programs rank in the U.S. News Top 10. It awards Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.) and Master of Laws (LL.M.) degrees, through its academic branch, the College of Law. The Law Center is more than just a law school. It is a powerful hub of intellectual activity with more than 15 centers and institutes that fuel its educational mission and national reputation. UHLC is fully accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools.

About the University of Houston

The University of Houston is a Carnegie-designated Tier One public research university recognized with a Phi Beta Kappa chapter for excellence in undergraduate education. UH serves the globally competitive Houston and Gulf Coast Region by providing world-class faculty, experiential learning and strategic industry partnerships. Located in the nation's fourth-largest city and one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse regions in the country, UH is a federally designated Hispanic- and Asian-American-Serving institution with an enrollment of more than 47,000 students.

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