The law as passed by Congress is very clear as to who may seek asylum in the United States. Immigration & Nationality Act Section 208 states: Any alien who is physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States (whether or not at a designated port of arrival and including an alien who is brought to the United States after having been interdicted in international or United States waters), irrespective of such alien’s status, may apply for asylum in accordance with this section or, where applicable section 235(b).
It’s another rough day to be an immigration attorney in America. Yesterday, a decision was issued that seriously undermines the ability of immigrants to seek asylum in this country. The administration is continuing its war against immigrants, building its invisible wall to complement the one they want to put on the border and finding new ways to keep immigrants from coming here or from obtaining protections. A crazy thing about our immigration system it is that the Immigration Courts are entirely under the control of the Department of Justice (DOJ).
We have heard a lot about the “Caravan” of immigrants making its way north through Mexico from the Northern Triangle- El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala- of Central America. Once numbering over 1200 people, the remaining 150-200 members Caravan arrived at the U.S. border to request refuge in the United States. When they got there, they were told that the U.S. was full. There was not even a manger to house them.
It can be so hard to stay positive as an immigration attorney in times like these. Every day, we face new assaults from the president, the attorney general, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Justice. This week, we learned that the attorney general is attempting to circumvent due process by telling immigration judges to reject asylum petitions without a full hearing if, upon initial review, they appear to be fraudulent or unlikely to succeed.
This month, we are pleased to honor Angie Salguero as our Client of the Month. Angie, a transgender woman from El Salvador, won her case for asylum last month in front of the immigration judge in Baltimore, MD. Angie’s story of violence and persecution from a very young age included physical abuse by the police and gangs, the loss of family, a dangerous trip to the United States, and stay in immigration detention.
This month we are thrilled to recognize Milan Stankovic as our client of the month. After filing his I-589 asylum application and three evidentiary filings, several hours of grueling interviews, numerous status inquiries, and six long years of seeking protection in the United States, Milan has finally been granted asylum. Milan, previously a professional soccer player and small business owner in his home country of Serbia, fled his home in 2011 following years of brutal violence against him.
Earlier this month, Ava Benach received the Fenner Award for Public Service from Whitman Walker Health Legal Services. She got it for doing what she does best– winning cases! The award recognizes the unique relationship that Benach Collopy has formed with Whitman Walker Health. Whitman Walker Health is the premier health care provider serving the LGBT community in Washington DC. Since its founding in the early days of the HIV crisis, WWH has expanded its services to provide more holistic assistance to its community.
The Benach Collopy Asylum Summer Fellowship 2017 I have been so lucky to get to know so many brave, hard-working, family-oriented, and generous people from all over the globe. They all shared one thing in common: a willingness to take a chance to come to the U.S. to be the person they knew they were meant to be. -Ava Benach Description of Fellowship Surging violence against transgender and gender nonconforming communities worldwide continue to force a record number of individuals to seek protection at U.S.
During these difficult times for our country, when the Trump Administration has suspended the refugee resettlement program and attempted to paint all refugees as terrorists and security threats, Benach Collopy has continued the fight for human rights, including the right to seek asylum and protection from persecution. We are pleased to introduce our Clients of the Month for February 2017, Karla Duran and her six-year-old son Anthony.
Today, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, I am thinking about the M.S. St. Louis. In 1939, while war waged in Europe, the M.S. St. Louis, a transatlantic ship carrying Jewish refugees fleeing the Third Reich, reached U.S. waters by way of Hamburg and Havana. Seeking protection from persecution and a safe place to start over with their families, these refugees hoped to be admitted to the United States of America.