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.
Writing in today’s Leadership Blog from the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Dree Collopy explains the fundamentals of asylum law the critics, journalists, and politicians fail to understand: Any refusal to recognize gender-motivated violence such as rape and domestic violence as persecution worthy of protection under the Immigration and Nationality Act and the U.N. Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees reflects a complete lack of understanding of women’s relationship to the state and their own governments’ failure to provide adequate protection.
Our Client of the Month for January 2016 is Monique Kagayigayi. A survivor of the Rwandan genocide whose asylum claim was granted in 2004, Monique just received her green card after more than 10 years of waiting. This is the story of a remarkable woman and the legal efforts that were required to secure her status in the United States. On April 6, 1994, Rwanda’s then-president’s plane was shot down, sparking more than three months of terror and killing throughout Rwanda that today seems unthinkable.
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.
Benach Collopy often turns this space over to law students and other friends to discuss their cases. Malissa Tucker and Alexandra Early are law students at the Catholic University Law School, where they are part of the immigration law clinic taught by Dree Collopy and Michelle Mendez. We met our client Muhammad shortly after the fall semester began. We were so nervous to meet this stranger who we knew desperately needed our help that all we could do was scribble down some extra notes about what we wanted to ask him and prepare steaming hot Styrofoam cups of mint tea – our way of saying “we are here to take care of you.” Little did we know, our relationship with Muhammad would come to revolve around these little tokens of kindness and blind faith in each other, eventually blossoming into a life-long friendship.
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.
We are thrilled to welcome and announce the newest addition to our BR family, Elanie Cintron. Elanie has joined us in DC as an associate attorney from North Carolina by way of Brooklyn, New York (where she received countless awards and honors as a law student at Hofstra University, including the prestigious Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Fellowship) and Denver, Colorado (where she immediately set herself apart as a rising star in the immigration field as an associate attorney with powerhouse firm Lichter Immigration).
This blog post was written by Paulina Vera, a student at George Washington University Law School, who is part of the Law School’s outstanding immigration clinic. On October 10, 2014, my client, S-G-L-, was granted asylum by Immigration Judge Paul W. Schmidt of the Arlington Immigration Court. S-G-L- fled Honduras in 2009 after her domestic partner attacked her with weapons and repeatedly beat and raped her. S-G-L- feared that her abuser would find her if she were to move elsewhere in Honduras and for that reason she made the decision to flee to the United States.
If the internet is good for anything, it is exposing a person to articles and information one ordinarily would not encounter. So it was when I stumbled across this article on Fox News Latino. The article discusses the Mexican government’s statement that Gaston Azcarraga, the former owner of the defunct Mexicana Airlines was in the United States and seeking asylum. At BR, we know nothing about Mr.
Last week, we wrote about the Fourth Circuit’s decision in Martinez v. Holder, in which the 4th Circuit held that “former gang members” can qualify as a particular social group for the purpose of establishing eligibility for asylum. Martinez is one of the two cases we wrote about in October in the hope that the 4th Circuit would bring some clarity and reason to the jurisprudence on the meaning of “particular social group” as a basis for asylum eligibility.