BIA Pro Bono Project Summer Victories
Despite the current difficult immigration climate, CLINIC’s BIA Pro Bono Project celebrated tremendous victories this summer at the Board of Immigration Appeals and in the Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal. Over the last year new DHS regulations and opinions from the Attorney General have been issued almost weekly, with the purpose of making it more difficult for noncitizens to win their immigration cases. Despite these hurdles, our talented volunteers have continued to take on difficult appeals and win protection for vulnerable asylum-seekers. We and our clients are so grateful to the pro bono attorneys who dedicate their time and skills to these cases. Below are some of the successes from this summer:
- The BIA remanded the case of a Haitian asylum seeker on numerous grounds, including that the Immigration Judge, or IJ, did not apply the proper framework for assessing firm resettlement, the IJ mixed up the respondent’s political party when assessing his claim for withholding of removal and the IJ did not meaningfully consider the respondent’s risk of future persecution. Thank you to Michael Ward of Alston & Bird!
- The BIA overturned the IJ’s adverse credibility finding against an asylum seeker from Burkina Faso. The BIA also found that the IJ erred in concluding there was no nexus between the harm the respondent suffered and his political opinion, including that the prosecution he endured was actually pretext for persecution. Thank you to Gregory Proctor, Marjorie Sheldon, and Christian Roccotagliata of Kramer, Levin, Naftalis & Frankel!
- The BIA granted asylum to a Cuban refugee. Contrary to the IJ, the BIA found that the harm suffered by the respondent did cumulatively rise to the level of past persecution and he did have a well-founded fear of persecution. Thank you to Austin Manes and Aaron Frankel of Kramer, Levin, Naftalis & Frankel!
- The BIA remanded the case of a Cuban asylum seeker because the IJ failed to consider the evidence of past economic persecution along with the physical harm suffered. The BIA also reminded the IJ that where the persecution is committed by the government, it is presumed that internal relocation is not reasonable, and the burden shifts to DHS to demonstrate that it would be reasonable in this case. Thank you to Dean Galaro of Perkins Coie!
- The BIA reopened the case of a Cuban asylum seeker because he had new evidence of harm and threats against his family that occurred after his final hearing with the immigration judge. Thank you to Astrid Ackerman and Aaron Webman of Kramer, Levin, Naftalis & Frankel!
- The Ninth Circuit granted the petition for review of a Ghanaian asylum seeker, overturning the IJ’s negative credibility finding and concluding that the Board had failed to adequately consider the country conditions evidence when it denied Convention Against Torture, or CAT, relief. You can read the full decision here. Thank you to Kari Hong of Boston College Law School!
- The Third Circuit, in a published decision, granted a Honduran asylum seeker’s petition for review, finding that the IJ and BIA erred in analyzing whether the respondent had suffered past persecution. The Court also found that the IJ failed to conduct the proper analysis regarding the need for evidence in an application for CAT protection. You can read the full decision here. Thank you to Aaron Rabinowitz and Gary Levin of Baker & Hostetler!
- The Sixth Circuit, in a published decision, granted a Russian asylum seeker’s petition for review, finding that the IJ and BIA erred in concluding that the respondent was not persecuted on account of his political opinions and that his indictment for peacefully protesting under Russian law was a pretext for persecution. You can read the full decision here. Thank you to Brenna Duncan and Andrew Caridas of Perkins Coie!
- DHS withdrew its appeal of a grant of asylum from Mexico to a Cuban national. DHS conceded to the IJ that the respondent was eligible for asylum from Mexico, but not Cuba because of the Third Country Transit Ban. DHS changed their mind and filed an appeal, which was withdrawn after the pro bono counsel filed his brief. Thank you to James Montana of The Law Office of James Montana!
- The BIA dismissed an appeal by the Department of Homeland Security and upheld a Cuban woman’s grant of asylum. The Board found that the IJ was correct in deeming the respondent eligible for asylum and not subject to the Third Country Transit Bar. Thank you to Aaron Rabinowitz and Jeffrey Lyons of Baker & Hostetler!
- ICE released a Venezuelan asylum seeker from detention to reunite with her spouse, after immense advocacy efforts by her pro bono attorney. Thank you to David Gottlieb!
- The Ninth Circuit remanded the case of a Honduran victim of domestic violence, at the request of the Department of Justice. The Court ordered the BIA to reconsider whether the respondent had demonstrated that the Honduran government acquiesced in her persecution, whether the respondent is part of a viable particular social group, whether it would have been futile for her to report the harm to local authorities, and whether internal relocation would be reasonable. Thank you to Alicia Chen!
- A victim of the Eritrean military’s notorious human rights violations was granted withholding of removal, after the BIA overturned the IJ’s adverse credibility finding and found that the IJ failed to consider that the country conditions evidence corroborated the respondent’s claim. Thank you to Jonaki Singh, Hien Lien, and Susan Jacquemot of Kramer, Levin, Naftalis & Frankel!
- The Ninth Circuit remanded the case of an asylum seeker from Mexico, at the request of the Department of Justice. The Court ordered the BIA to reconsider whether the respondent had been persecuted and sexually assaulted on account of her sexual orientation, and whether the government of Mexico could adequately protect her from future harm. Thank you to Tim Patton of The Appellate Immigration Project!
The BIA Pro Bono Project matches volunteer attorneys and fully accredited representatives with indigent respondents in need of representation before the BIA. If you would like to volunteer with the BIA Pro Bono Project, please fill out our volunteer form.