2013 Past Headlines
Immigration Clinic Students Win Asylum for Couple from Congo
A couple from the Republic of Congo fleeing persecution in their homeland is on the path toward U.S. citizenship because of the work of two students of the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. Third-year students Anne Kaiser (Photo below, left) and Amanda McIlwain won asylum for the couple as part of their participation in the law school’s immigration clinic, directed by Professor Linda Kelly Hill.
The couple came to the United States after they were severely tortured, imprisoned and interrogated because of the wife’s involvement in a non-violent political party which speaks out against Congo’s longstanding president, Denis Sassou Nguesso, who held power from 1979 to 1992, and has held power a second time since 1997. The female client’s political work included translating for her party’s leaders from French into her native tribal dialect. Her presence and activism were critical when her party travelled into parts of Congo to rally and educate the women of her tribe.
“The culmination of the couple’s persecution occurred,” Professor Kelly Hill said, “when President Nguesso’s officers raided the couple’s home and arrested them upon discovery of a book in the home entitled ‘Sassou Nguesso: L’irrestible ascension d’un pion de la Françafrique,’ which loosely translates as ‘Sassou Nguesso: The irresistible ascension of a pawn of the Françafrique,’ referring to France’s neocolonial relationship with Africa.” McIlwain and Kaiser found the book in IU’s library and introduced it as a key exhibit.
The case involved three separate hearings in federal Immigration Court in Chicago before Judge Craig M. Zerbe – roughly nine hours of trial and a great deal of travel, Professor Kelly Hill said. McIlwain and Kaiser represented the couple at each hearing. Their work included fully preparing the clients, conducting direct examination of both individuals, submitting a 24-page brief and introducing numerous other exhibits. After the hearing, the students and clients celebrated by eating pizza at Chicago’s famous Giordano’s.
“Now that they are on the path to U.S. citizenship, it is time that our clients learn what good American pizza tastes like,” joked Kaiser.