Students Help Client Avoid Removal from U.S. with Second 6th Circuit Appellate Win
Key precedential victory reaffirms the principle that the government can't relitigate the same claim in removal proceedings
Minnesota Law students have helped win a decisive second victory allowing a man to reunite with family in the United States and potentially sparing others from unlawful repeated removal actions in a key procedural ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
The Sixth Circuit’s opinion in Jasso Arangure v. Garland serves as a significant check on federal prosecutorial power in administrative immigration proceedings, according to assistant visiting clinical professor Nadia Anguiano-Wehde ’17.
The decision significantly affects the ability of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “to unlawfully institute removal proceeding after removal proceeding against noncitizens,” Anguiano-Wehde said.
“You get one fair chance to bring a case, and after that even if you are the federal government, you don’t get a second bite at the apple,” she continued.
As a fellow and visiting assistant clinical professor at the Law School’s James H. Binger Center for New Americans, Anguiano-Wehde led the case with students enrolled in the Law School’s Federal Immigration Litigation Clinic (FILC) and conducted the oral argument on Jasso’s behalf before a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit virtually in August. Anguiano-Wehde was recently appointed to serve as the director of FILC on an interim basis for the 2022-23 academic year.
In the first round of litigation in 2018, also led by FILC, the Sixth Circuit rejected DHS efforts to deport Jasso, a lawful permanent resident, after he pleaded guilty to first-degree home invasion. The court held that the common-law doctrine of res judicata or claims preclusion, which bars re-litigating claims over the same issues after a court has made its final ruling, applies in administrative removal proceedings.
In February, a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit applied the doctrine once again to deny a second DHS bid to remove Jasso.
The decision should allow Jasso to rejoin his family in this country and help others avoid repeated removal efforts.
“Beyond the impact to our client, which is paramount, this case is ultimately so meaningful to me because it involves so many generations of clinic students,” Anguiano-Wehde said. “It brings to the fore how much of a family FILC creates and the impact that it has in training new generations of lawyers to do this very impactful work.”
Current students and alumni who worked on the case while enrolled in the immigration clinic said the real-world experience was an invaluable complement to their coursework and influential in what they want to do or are doing as lawyers.
Their efforts included researching the intersection of immigration law, administrative law and common law in cases dating to the 1800s and extending to British legal principles—with credit to Law Library staff for help in identifying sources. The research helped students write briefs answering complex questions from the Sixth Circuit. Students also helped Anguiano-Wehde prepare for the oral argument with a handful of moot courts.
Ashley Meeder, 3L, and summer student director of the clinic, said her experience researching case law, developing arguments and articulating complex ideas for the supplemental briefing will benefit her after law school, when she begins a two-year fellowship atBPI, a Chicago nonprofit that advocates for social, racial and economic justice.
“I love this clinic and the ways that it supports its clients and its students,” Meeder said. “What drew me to the clinic and to immigration work is an awareness that there are communities in the United States that have a very different reality in access to courts and justice. I’m grateful to be on a team striving to change that.”
Seiko Shastri ’21, worked on the case as a clinic student from its initial stages through her 2L and 3L years, including assisting with the opening and supplemental briefs. She now works with the Immigrant Defense Project in New York City
“Working on the case felt like the most important thing that I was doing or could be doing as a law student,” Shastri said. “It helped me put what I had learned theoretically in the classroom into practice. The Federal Immigration Litigation Clinic is one of the few places in law schools across the country where I could experience such a deep and hands-on learning opportunity.”
Immigration law appeals to clinic student Jesse Calo, 3L, for multiple reasons. For one, his father emigrated from Spain. He also enjoys the “hyper-technical legal issues” it involves.
“It’s an area of law that I’d certainly see myself practicing in after graduating but (this experience) has probably confirmed that,” Calo said.
While Calo has worked on other federal appeals as a clinic student, this is the first of those to go to oral arguments.
"I saw in depth how to prepare for a real oral argument as compared to the simulated appeals that I've done in my coursework," Calo said. “The stakes are obviously much higher.”
Paul Dimick ’19 began working on the first round of litigation in the case as a clinic student in January 2018, drafting briefs and coordinating with amici and co-arguing the case the first time it went to the Sixth Circuit. After graduation, Dimick stayed on the case as a clinic adjunct, supervising student attorneys, helping them write briefs and working with Anguiano-Wehde as she prepared for last year’s oral argument.
“When I was in law school, the clinic was by far the most invaluable experience I had in terms of real-world experience and learning more about the immigration law system,” Dimick said. “It’s been even more valuable to transition into the adjunct role and try to provide the same meaningful experience for current students.”
Clinic work helped Dimick focus on what he wants to do as a lawyer and prepared him for jobs with the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota and more recently the Minnesota Freedom Fund, a nonprofit that pays immigration bonds and criminal bail for those who can’t afford it.
“It made me realize that I wanted to include impact litigation as part of whatever I did in the future,” Dimick said. “It put me in a great spot, in my early years after law school, to continue working on impact litigation in my first jobs as an attorney.”
“Advocating for clients like Mr. Jasso along with such talented and passionate students and colleagues is the greatest honor and privilege, and I can’t wait to see the work future generations of Minnesota Law students will do,” Anguiano-Wehde said.
Todd Nelson is a freelance writer based in Lake Elmo, Minnesota