On May 4, 1970, U.S. National Guardsmen shot and killed four people protesting the Vietnam War. The massacre, known as the Kent State shootings, topped a tumultuous decade that spurred a lot of violence against those making then-controversial claims to civil rights. In the aftermath of the shooting, many Americans blamed the protesting students and cited violations of law allegedly committed by the protestors. What was not in dispute was that four young people lost their lives that day at the hand of troops acting under the flag of the United States.
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.
My name is Jane Vukmer, and I am a third-year student at the University of New Hampshire School of Law. This summer, I worked as the Trans Asylum Fellow for Benach Collopy and Whitman-Walker. The Benach Collopy and Whitman-Walker legal partnership provides pro bono legal services to transgender asylum seekers who have been victimized, abused, tortured, and persecuted in their country of origin. I have had the great privilege to work on seventeen different asylum cases involving transgender women from Central America who fled their country due to persecution based on gender identity.
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.