What a year! 2017 will go down as one of the weirdest years we can remember. And for all the terrible news, we will remember this year as one of tremendous change and growth. On December 22, 2017, we will officially occupy our new office space at 4530 Wisconsin Avenue. While it is hard to leave downtown Washington DC, driving past the White House has lost nearly all of its charm this year.
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.
Our website looks subtly different. When you visit our new offices (soon!) or open our emails, you’re greeted with a fresh, clean vibe. Today, we’re excited to unveil the new look of Benach Collopy! Why the new look? Candidly, our old look was pretty boring. While it was clean and professional, it was also a little trite and expected from a law firm. That’s simply not us.
This one makes us so happy. Reina Mercado is a catracha (native of Honduras) who arrived to the U.S. undocumented in the early 90s. Following the destruction wrought by Hurricane Mitch in October 1998, the Attorney General designated Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Hondurans on January 5, 1999 and Reina was eligible for it. The government may designate a country for TPS when there is a catastrophic situation in that country, such as war or natural disasters, that makes it inhumane to remove individuals to that country at that time.
I’m Sophie Macklem-Johnson, and I am about to be a senior at Grinnell College (Dree’s alma mater). I am majoring in History and Spanish, and have a concentration in Latin American Studies. I have been speaking Spanish and learning about Latin America since I was started Kindergarten at a Spanish immersion elementary school in Minnesota. I am sure my parents couldn’t have foreseen how much of an impact their decision to send me to this public school rather than the one in our neighborhood would have on my worldview, values, and career aspirations.
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.
Ava & Meher, NYC 4/13/17 I have been waiting to write this one for decades. Meher is one of my favorite people and on May 18, 2017, she will take the oath of United States citizenship in her hometown of New York, NY. It was a 16 year journey that Meher and I began in our twenties. We have moved across jobs, law firms, cities, and countries together.
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.