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2011 Refugee Assistance Highlights

In 2011, 28 individuals from countries including Chad, China, Colombia, Mauritania, Mexico, Nepal, Tibet, and Ukraine, were granted asylum or other immigration relief in the U.S. through the efforts of pro bono attorneys working with the Refugee Assistance Project at the City Bar Justice Center.

Two notable cases, on behalf of clients from the Ivory Coast and Mexico, illustrate the types of issues the Justice Center’s volunteer attorneys handle. Aileen McGill and Stephanie Teplin from Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP represented a young man who had fled Mexico after years of threats and violence due to his sexual orientation. The Patterson team was able to highlight the reality of cultural and social conditions in Mexico, in contrast to recent pro-LGBT legislative accomplishments that they argued are as yet only paper tigers, and win asylum for their client in October.

Morgan Clark, Kristin McNamara Pauley, Nicole Naples and Mei Lin Kwan-Gett from Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP represented a client who had been subjected to female genital mutilation as a child and fled the Ivory Coast to escape a forced marriage. Soon after arriving in the United States, she was diagnosed with HIV and then eventually AIDS. With the help of her Willkie team, the client was able to overcome a difficult 11-year filing deadline issue and win asylum in December.

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