Immigration Justice Campaign Success Stories

These inspiring volunteers and their clients represent a few of the Immigration Justice Campaign’s success stories. Thank you to the 8,000+ volunteers who have joined the fight for every immigrant’s fair day in court.

Christine Fox, James Ostaszewski, and Phil Leggio from the law firm of Labaton Sucharow helped “Bernardino” win release from detention – and reunify with his 12-year-old daughter. Bernardino and his daughter fled violence and persecution in Central America, but were separated at the border in March under the Trump Administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy, despite asking for asylum at a designated port of entry, with valid country passports and proof of parentage. Bernardino was sent to an adult immigration detention center in one state, while his daughter was sent to a facility for minors in a neighboring state. After four months apart, he and his determined volunteer legal team won his release from detention. Two days later, Bernardino was finally reunited with his daughter. Volunteers Fox, Ostaszewski, and Leggio will continue to handle Bernardino’s asylum case, and Bernardino’s daughter has enrolled in middle school.

Dennis Windscheffel, Kate Powers, Justin Wood, Alyssa Pehmoeller, Brette Peña, Natasha Burnett, Zach Bruchmiller, Menachem Danishefsky and Lauren Connell of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, along with Jennifer Rappoport and Whitney Mack of SunPower, aided in the reunification of two families. Mr. C.Z. and his son had been separated since their arrival in the United States nearly four months prior. They fled forcible death threats from a violent loan shark in Guatemala. The team also aided in the reunification of Mr. H.G. and his son, who fled forcible gang recruitment and death threats in Honduras. Mr. H.G. reports having been coerced by immigration officials to sign papers he did not understand. The father and son were reunited after nearly three months apart. Because of the work of these Justice Campaign volunteers, these families will be able to continue their asylum claims in the United States together, outside of detention.

Benjamin Heidlage and Margot Hoppin, attorneys at litigation boutique Holwell Shuster & Goldberg LLP, recently completed a successful emergency representation of their client, Mr. C, who faced threats of violence, imprisonment, and death in Central America. He and his 10-year-old son fled to the United States, where they requested asylum, and were separated and detained. Before retaining pro bono counsel, Mr. C received a negative credible fear finding, which was affirmed by an Immigration Judge, and was therefore ineligible to apply for asylum and subject to immediate deportation. Ben and Margot successfully applied to USCIS for reconsideration of the negative credible fear finding and represented Mr. C at his re-interview. USCIS then changed its screening determination, finding that Mr. C has a credible fear of persecution or torture. Mr. C and his son have been reunited and released from detention, and will continue their pursuit of asylum in the United States.

Ingrid Johnson of the law firm of Drinker Biddle & Reath, successfully represented her client, Mr. M, on his claim for asylum. Mr. M fled Angola following torture and death threats by the country’s secret police force. He was detained upon his arrival in the United States, and held at the Elizabeth Detention Center in New Jersey. He has since been released from detention.

Karen Baldwin won asylum on behalf of Mr. Y and Mr. R, both of whom fled torture and beatings in Azerbaijan due to their involvement in the Talysh National Movement. In Azerbaijan, the Talysh are subjected to forced cultural alignment by the Azerbaijani, Iranian, and Turkish Governments.

Shoba Jaglal and Harry Shulman obtained cancellation of removal for their clients who had been green card holders for decades. They had been picked up in New Jersey as part of the Trump administration’s enforcement surge against immigrants with minor or no criminal history. 44% of ICE arrestees in NJ in the first half of 2017 had no criminal backgrounds; and in 2017, arrests of those without known criminal convictions nationwide soared 146% since 2016. This was Jaglal’s first removal defense case and Shulman’s first cancellation case.

With the help of Lindsay Maione, Jenifer Scarcella, and Zaara Nazir of White & Williams, a Cameroonian man was granted asylum after fleeing persecution in his home country.

Mary Rothwell Davis and Mary McGowan Davis sought and obtained asylum on behalf of their client who fled persecution on account of his political opinion in his home country, Congo-Brazzaville.

Henry and Helen Freedman successfully represented Mr. K on his asylum claim. Mr. K fled the Democratic Republic of the Congo following many months of incarceration and daily torture by prison guards because of his political activity. After escaping prison, Mr. K arrived in Brazil hidden in the bottom of a cargo ship. From there, he traveled to the United States by land. Counsel were aided by a volunteer doctor from the Mount Sinai Human Rights program who examined Mr. K and testified about the evidence of torture.

Adriana Copolla successfully represented Mr. PC on his asylum claim. Mr. PC’S father was killed due to his family’s political affiliation, and Mr. PC suffered beatings and torture by government officials before fleeing to the United States.

Eric Porter of White and Williams LLP successfully represented his client, Mr. A, on his asylum claim. Mr. A fled Nigeria following beatings and torture due to his religious affiliation and refusal to ascend the throne in his local village.

Christopher Beshara of Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP successfully represented his client, Mr. S, on his asylum claim. Mr. S had written articles criticizing the Taliban and soon after, endured beatings by armed men who attacked him and threatened his life. Mr. S fled subsequently fled Pakistan.

Liz Jordan successfully represented a man with a severe skin disease in his pursuit of release from detention on bond. The client fled his home country due to life-threatening conditions. In addition, Liz successfully represented a client with severe abdominal pain in his pursuit of release from detention.

Violeta Chapin, Katherine Vera, and Emily Anderson successfully assisted in their client’s release from detention after fleeing violence in Mexico. Their client’s wife is a U.S. citizen and suffers from severe health issues.


Volunteers Christine Fox, James Ostaszewski, and Phil Leggio fought for the release and reunification of their clients (pictured), a father and daughter who fled violence in Central America and were separated at the border and detained in March 2018.

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