Asylum & Removal Defense
A significant and large part of my practice involves asylum defense. Between 2012 - present we have seen a huge increase in clients fleeing El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras due to gang violence. Asylum law does not protect persons who flee violence in general. A client must establish specific persecution based on a protected ground. Gang violence cases are difficult and hard to win, but case law is beginning to open up a little. Persons who can argue they were specifically targeted by gangs due to an anti-gang opinion, due to being witness to a specific crime, or women targeted by gangs, have more possibilities of winning their claims.
At the present time, certain persons crossing the border and detained by the Border Patrol are being identified as "surge" cases. These are unaccompanied minors, and families with children fleeing gang/drug violence. These cases have been designated as "high priority" by the Obama administration. This means they must be heard and resolved within a year. These cases move through the courts at a rapid, rapid speed. It is positive for those clients desiring a quick resolution. A work permit can eventually be obtained after approximately 180 days. However, it places a huge strain on the client financially. Attorneys fees must be paid twice as fast. For the attorneys, surge cases place the attorney under tremendous stress to prepare the case as quickly as possible. Clients are usually traumatized. The violence they have witnessed makes them imperfect witnesses. The legal theories are based on emerging case law and theories.
Apart from gang cases, we represent clients from the LGBT community (with emphasis on Brazil and Mexico) who seek asylum on account of persecution. We also represent a significant amount of women who have suffered from domestic violence. We also represent Mam speakers from indigenous communities in Guatemala.