For November 2015, we want to honor two good friends of Benach Collopy (FOBR), Allison Rashkin (left) and Jessica Lang (right), who became U.S.citizens this year. Allison came to the U.S. from Montreal, Canada and Jessica from Costa Rica. Both are spinning instructors at Zengo Cycle in Bethesda. Neither of them had hard cases. But they are the kind of cases that thrill us at Benach Collopy.
This post was written by BR’s administrative services manager, Naya Gonzalez. 100 women, 100 miles. Waving banners, singing hymns, pushing strollers and full of hope – that’s how 100 women walked 100 miles from an immigration detention center in York, Pennsylvania all the way to Washington, DC, where they arrived Tuesday night. They were inspired by Pope Francis’s call to justice for immigrants all over the world: “We must respond to the globalization of migration with the globalization of charity and cooperation,” the Pope has said.
In Avendano-Hernandez v. Lynch, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled today that the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) made an error of law in denying protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) to a transgender woman from Mexico who had been sexually assaulted and raped by members of the Mexican police and military. Apparently, an immigration judge and the BIA got it so wrong that it took an appeal to the Court of Appeals (a step below the Supreme Court) to reach the right decision.
For September 2015, we are proud to present Aura Carrera of Heber City, Utah as our client of the month. Her green card arrived last month and she is heading home to Guatemala for the first time in over twenty years, a resident returning to visit family after nearly a quarter century. Aura’s case was a fight from the beginning. When she came to Ava Benach, Aura had a removal order from an immigration judge in Salt Lake City, Utah and a determination for the U.S.
This summer we have had to say farewell to one of our original team members. Since Benach Collopy opened doors on April 2, 2012, Sandra Arboleda was here ready with a fresh cup of coffee and a desire to help our clients through the challenges of U.S. immigration law. Sandra is moving on to seek an advanced degree in social work. her passion for helping people, which served us and our clients so well here, demands that she improve her education to put her talent and determination to use in the field of social work.
Since last summer, when the Obama Administration hastily resurrected the concept of family detention to jail refugee women and children seeking asylum, thousands of women and children have languished in inhumane conditions, have been refused meaningful access to counsel and interpreters, have been hurled through bond proceedings with predetermined results, and have been sent directly and expeditiously back to the danger from which they fled – all in violation of U.S.
Much of the world rejoiced yesterday upon seeing the photos of Caitlyn Jenner’s exquisite transformation on the cover of the June issue of Vanity Fair. Much of the commentary I saw focused not so much on her physical appearance, but how she looked at peace and contented to be herself. As an immigration lawyer who has represented many trans asylum seekers, I know and have seen that look.
VM is our Client of the Month for May 2015. VM became a client of Benach Collopy attorneys starting in 2008, when she was detained upon her arrival at the airport from Brazil. Today, after seven years, fights with four immigration agencies, and three immigration applications (asylum, adjustment of status, and naturalization), VM is now a United States citizen. VM fled terrible violence in Brazil because of her gender and sexual identity, and arrived in the United States in search of protection.
Yesterday, several prominent House Democrats called on the administration to end family detention. Organized by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of California, the Democrats decried the Obama administration’s detention of women and children fleeing violence in Central America. From the creating of a truncated form of due process in refugee protection to a novel interpretation of bond eligibility to conditions which have caused serious illnesses in the children being jailed by the administration, the entire experience of the gulag archipelago of detention centers was designed not to follow the law and protect asylum-seekers, but as a means of deterrence to other potential refugees.
Once a year immigration attorneys from all over the country march to Washington, D.C. to meet with their elected officials and to encourage them to take action toward fixing this country’s broken immigration system. The event is organized by the American Immigration Lawyers Association and is appropriately called the National Day of Action. This year, one of the issues we put on the list of things to discuss is family detention.