Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pro Bono Asylum Cases - Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights

Last week, I received an email from the new asylum coordinator at the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights in San Francisco. Contained in the text of the message were the brief synopsis of the cases that need a pro bono attorney to take over the client's representation. Currently, I am swamped with work in my practice as well as the appointed criminal appellate cases I take from the Court of Appeal.

But just to give you a sampling of the horrific cases floating around in the immigration courts, refugees crying out for justice and relief, here are a few of the cases.


Honduran woman, 29, as teenager became partner to violently possessive man in his 40s who threatened to kill her if she left. She fled to Mexico, but her partner found her and took her back to Honduras, where he continued to abuse her and threatened to kill her family. In Mexico, she was also raped by a police officer. Must qualify for exception to one-year application deadline. Master Calendar hearing January 23, 2014.

Client is a Mayan Guatemalan woman, 20. Her alcoholic partner beat her even when she was pregnant, and would call her an “ugly hag.” When he got a new woman, he forced her from home. She returned to parents with her newborn son. Her partner, having joined a gang, tried to claim the son, cursing her and firing a gun at her. His gang member friends then molested her and told her that her partner had said they could kill her at any time. On their most recent encounter, her partner told her that he would not leave her alone until he killed her. Stockton resident. Must ask Immigration Judge to advance master calendar (preliminary) hearing to on or before June 8, 2014, for timely filing of asylum application.

Client is a Guatemalan survivor of domestic violence who met and married a man when she was 15-years old. He began abusing her, continuing when she became pregnant and she miscarried as a result. His family, whom they lived with, was also emotionally abusive towards her. After becoming pregnant again, she left to stay with family members but he found her and beat her for it. Her partner later left for the United States after which her father-in-law began sexually abusing her. Her partner then came back from the United States and raped her, from which she got pregnant, and continued to beat her even threatening her with a machete. He threatened her life and that of her mother. She decided to come to the United States and fears for her life, especially because her partner has also sometimes come to the United States. The asylum application is largely prepared and the case just needs to be advanced so that the client may file in court.

Client is a gay Jordanian man who comes from a fairly well-off religious family; his father would sometimes beat him when he made mistakes. In August 2013, his family found out he was gay through a Facebook message a friend posted on his wall. His father hit him on two separate occasions, threatened future punishment, and threw him out of the house. He stayed with a friend for three weeks, then raised money from friends and flew to the United States, where he had a visa from a previous work trip. He fears that his father and possibly other extended family members will further harm him if he returns, and that the police will not help him, because they do not protect gay people or involve themselves in internal family matters of honor. His deadline for an affirmative asylum application is November 4, 2014.

Client is a 30-year old Peruvian woman who endured almost a decade of abuse at the hands of her domestic partner, who would beat her and allowed his cousin to molest their 4-year old daughter. Afraid, she left moved to another town, where she was tracked down by the partner. When she went to the police to report him, they discouraged her and said they did not have paper to take a report. The client continued to be harassed by her partner, and decided to come to the United States. Her partner has told her recently that if she does not return to him, he will find her and he will kill her. Her Master Calendar hearing is scheduled for May 19, 2015, but this must be advanced to meet a filing deadline of August 4, 2014 to meet the one-year filing deadline.