Founding Director of UH's Immigration Law Clinic Dies

June 30, 2008

Joseph A. Vail, founding director of the University of Houston Law Center's Immigration Law Clinic, died Tuesday after battling cancer at his Philadelphia residence.
A funeral mass was held on Saturday, June 28, at the Sacred Heart Church in Havertown, Pa.
At UH, the Law Center has established a memorial fund in his honor and is planning a remembrance at the start of the fall semester. 
In 1995, Vail was appointed as an immigration judge with the U.S. Department of Justice, where he served for more than four years.  In 1994, Vail was recognized by the State Bar of Texas for the free legal services he provided to indigent clients. He developed the Immigration Law Clinic into one of the nation’s largest after founding it in 1999. Before his death, Vail was nominated by 108 lawyers in Houston and across the state for an immigration award issued annually by the National Lawyers Guild.

Vail is survived by two daughters, Tanya Clark and Aleyda Alearenga; brothers James, Harry and Michael Vail; and sisters Bernice Liberato, Francina Miley and Ann Garrison.

Staff reports