Kari Hong has been with the Florence Project since June 2021. Kari has represented nearly 200 individuals before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, dozens of people before the Board of Immigration Appeals, and more than 50 people in state and federal criminal court appeals. The Ninth Circuit has issued decisions on more than 100 of her cases, including nearly 30 published decisions. Notable decisions include Cheneau v. Garland, 997 F.3d 916 (9th Cir. 2021) (en banc) (a person who had established an objective intent to reside in the United States before his 18th birthday is entitled to derivative citizenship), Miller v. Sessions, 889 F.3d 998 (9th Cir. 2018) (a non-citizen ordered in absentia may reopen proceedings in reinstatement proceedings), Lopez-Valencia v. Lynch, 798 F.3d 863 (9th Cir. 2015) (California theft offenses are not aggravated felonies), Ridore v. Holder, 696 F.3d 907 (9th Cir. 2012) (the BIA failed to apply the clear error standard when rejecting the immigration judge’s findings of fact that a U.S. deportee with a criminal conviction will be tortured if returned to Haiti).
Before joining the Florence Project, Kari was a tenured law professor at Boston College Law School where she specialized in immigration law, criminal law, and founded the Ninth Circuit Appellate Program, a clinic in which law students argued cases to the Ninth Circuit. Before teaching, Kari was a solo practitioner specializing in immigration and criminal appeals, with offices in California and Oregon. Kari is a graduate of Columbia Law School and Swarthmore College and clerked for Judge Jeremy Fogel (Northern District of California) and Judge Sidney Thomas (Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals).
Kari’s commentary and scholarship has appeared in national publications including the Washington Post, New York Times, and CNN. She has spoken at numerous trainings and conferences on matters relating to asylum, immigration consequences of criminal convictions, and appellate advocacy.
In 2019, the Florence Project conferred her with the Adult Program Pro Bono Attorney of the Year award in recognition of her 15 years of volunteer work with the organization. Like many Americans, her own family history is a tapestry woven from those who immigrated and fled persecution. Kari has drawn inspiration from her own family members who have both been welcomed by this country and who have worked to help others do the same. Kari seeks to pay those opportunities forward in her own work in the immigration field. Kari now lives in Montana and enjoys hiking, biking, hockey, and playing golf with her family.
Stay up to date with the Florence Project and our unwavering fight for immigrants' rights.