The firm represented several other clients seeking refuge in the United States. Some, including the ones described below, received welcome news in 2022.
“Fadima” was enrolled in medical school in Burkina Faso with a very promising future when she was kidnapped, taken to a small village, and forced to live with a stranger who physically and sexually abused her. In 2013, she fled the country and came to the United States. Here, Fadima reconnected with the love of her life, “William,” whom she had met as a teenager in Burkina Faso. Fadima and William married, and they now have two children with another on the way. After enrolling in college and restarting her educational journey, Fadima is now a licensed nurse.
Unfortunately, while Fadima was waiting for her asylum hearing, a man attacked her at her apartment in the Bronx, causing her to miscarry and seriously injuring both her and her then-12-day-old nephew, who was in her arms at the time of the attack. Determined to see her attacker brought to justice, Fadima worked with law enforcement to secure his arrest and conviction. In doing so, she became eligible for a U-Visa, a form of immigration relief reserved for victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and who help law enforcement in the investigation into or prosecution of criminal activity. Fadima applied for a U-Visa in early 2016 and included her husband as a derivative applicant. There are a limited number of U-Visas available, and it takes many years for the government to process the application.
Finally, in December 2022–nearly eight years after Fadima submitted her application–she was granted lawful permanent residence in the United States based on her U-Visa. Fadima, William, and their children can now safely reside in this country.
“Juana” is a Garífuna woman from Honduras. The Garífuna are an indigenous community of African descent that has historically been ostracized and discriminated against in Honduran society. Many Garífuna live on ancestral lands that the Honduran government gave them in the early 1800s, which are now the subject of land disputes as foreign corporations attempt to purchase and develop the land for tourism.
Juana is a leader and activist among the Garífuna people. Because of her efforts to protect her community’s land rights and improve access to employment and educational opportunities, she and other leaders faced grave danger and were at particular risk for violence and persecution. Juana was badly injured by the Honduran police during a protest, and she began receiving death threats from unknown men who came to her family home and followed her around the community. Many Garífuna activists have disappeared and been murdered while the local police and Honduran government turn a blind eye. Fearing for her life and having nowhere to go for protection, Juana fled to the United States to seek asylum.
The firm submitted an asylum application on Juana’s behalf, claiming that she had a well-founded fear of future persecution because of her political activity and Garífuna identity. The immigration court agreed and granted Juana asylum. She can now safely remain in the United States, where she is currently receiving lifesaving cancer treatment.
“Juana” can now safely remain in the United States where she is currently receiving lifesaving cancer treatment.