The stories we hear each day are portraits of pain and courage of people so desperate that they leave behind family, friends, and homes to flee torture, abuse, and possible death. We represent hundreds of asylum-seekers from throughout the world and immigrants who are unjustly detained. Here are just a few people for whom we have won the chance to start again:
- “Zaid,” an asylum-seeker from Uganda, fled abuse and torture at the hands of Ugandan government forces due to his sexual orientation and political beliefs. Zaid is a gay man who was forcibly outed in a country where being gay is a crime. Zaid was arrested and detained by government forces, during which time he was beaten, threatened with death, and tortured. He managed to escape his captors and fled from Uganda. With the help of friends, he came to the U.S. where he connected with PAIR, who matched him with his pro bono attorney, Nathaniel Bruhn, of Morgan Lewis. With Attorney Bruhn’s help, Zaid applied for asylum and navigated the confusing and often frustrating immigration system. After waiting for 3 years, Zaid finally won asylum this year before the Boston Asylum Office. He now resides in Massachusetts, and is rebuilding his life and working toward becoming a green-card holder.
- “Benoit,” from Cameroon, was a member of the Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC), an opposition party to the Biya government who has ruled since 1982. Client believed in democracy and wanted to encourage political change. He wanted the government to improve education, roads, healthcare infrastructure, and to provide equal rights for all, regardless of tribal affiliation or language. The ruling party did not approve of any criticism or opposition. During a political meeting, government forces arrested and brutally beat client and other SCNC members. They detained client, during which time they tortured him, demanding that he quit the SCNC or else he would be killed. When client was released, he fled the country and came to the U.S., where unfortunately, he was detained upon entry. Client met with a PAIR staff member, and was matched with a PAIR pro bono attorney, who represented client before the Boston Immigration Judge. With the pro bono attorney’s help, client won asylum and was released from detention. He is now working on rebuilding his life.
- “Zara” was born in Ecuador where she faced severe harm, including, beating, bullying, social isolation, and rape, due to the fact that she is lesbian. As a child, she was sexually abused by family members who wanted to teach her to be more feminine. She was even sent to a “correction facility,” where she was sexually abused so that she would be “cured” of her homosexuality. Zara managed to escape. Though she faced severe discrimination, she rebuilt her life and opened a successful business. One night, while at her salon, she was attacked by a group of men because she was lesbian. They beat, assaulted, and stabbed her. Zara fled to the U.S. and connected with PAIR. PAIR Asylum staff attorney Anita P. Sharma helped her file for asylum with the Newark Asylum Office. With great courage and strength, Zara explained her case to the Asylum Office and was granted asylum.
- “Marie” is a young woman who fled her country in search of a safe haven because was a victim of severe domestic violence and abuse during her childhood in Haiti. Due to this trauma, she arrived in the U.S. with serious mental health challenges and fell victim to substance abuse, leading to trouble and ending up in immigration detention. PAIR staff met her at the Women’s Unit at the Bristol County House of Corrections, where she was detained by Immigration & Customs Enforcement, pending a deportation hearing in Immigration Court. PAIR accepted her case after a detailed screening and found pro bono counsel from the law firm Foley Hoag to represent her in Immigration Court. With the help of her dedicated legal staff and with great resilience in sharing her story, “Marie” was granted relief from deportation and released from detention. She now lives in a safe environment in Massachusetts with her family.
- “Jeaninne” was targeted in the DRC due to her political activity and her father’s leadership role in an opposition political party. She was beaten, raped, and imprisoned for months before managing to escape and seek asylum in the U.S. After eight years and successful appeals to the Board of Immigration Appeals and the First Circuit, Jeannine finally won asylum before the Boston Immigration Judge, thanks to the perseverance of PAIR pro bono attorneys from Shapiro, Haber & Urmy.
- “Jose” fled Honduras because he was repeatedly harassed, beaten, and raped due to his sexual orientation and his courageous work as a gay rights activist. Despite the risk, he helped form an organization to document rights abuses within the gay community, such as police cruelty, mistreatment, and exploitation. As a result, Jose was arrested by a police officer who continued to threaten him. With the help of the PAIR Asylum Attorney and his pro bono attorney from Burns & Levinson, he won asylum in the U.S. and continues to advocate for gay and lesbian rights.
- “Sofia,” a woman from Saudi Arabia, suffered years of physical abuse from her father, including being forced to marry as a child. Her husband then continued the abuse to the point where he beat her constantly and threatened to lock her up. She was able to escape from him and with her dedicated pro bono attorneys from Ropes & Gray won asylum in the U.S.
- “Tatiana” advocated for better conditions in Chechnyan refugee camps and criticized the Russian government’s treatment of Chechnyan refugees. Russian forces responded by detaining, harassing, and threatening her and unlawfully arresting her son. Now that she has won asylum through the hard work of her PAIR pro bono attorneys from Ropes & Gray, Tatiana can now rebuild her life in the U.S.
- “Claude” was held in immigration detention and agreed to be deported even though he had never spoken with an immigration lawyer about his options. ICE prepared to deport him to Haiti, where Claude was born, by first transferring him to Louisiana. The Haitian government’s policy of detaining deportees from U.S. detention centers meant he would have been imprisoned in Haiti upon his return, and would likely have died due to the inhumane conditions in Haitian prisons. PAIR learned of Claude’s situation only days before he was to be deported, determined that he was not even deportable, and convinced ICE to transfer him back to Boston. The PAIR Detention Attorney represented Claude in front of the Immigration Judge, who terminated his removal case, ensuring his release from detention.
- “Marjan” feared persecution in Iran due to her conversion to Christianity and her rejection of Islamic norms. Because conversion is illegal in Iran, she faced harm, including torture, imprisonment and death, if she were returned to Iran. With the dedication of her legal team from Foley & Lardner, Marjan won asylum in the U.S.
- “Ali” fled from Somalia as a young man when civil war led to threats against his life. He arrived almost penniless, and filed for asylum through PAIR. He won asylum in the U.S. due to the dedication of his pro bono attorney from Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky & Popeo. After winning his asylum case, he went on to work at an accounting firm, and later to earn an MBA from Harvard Business School. He is now a U.S. citizen and holds a prestigious position in international finance.
- “Lucia” came to the U.S. from Cape Verde with her parents when she was 13, and has now lived in the country for over 20 years. When she applied for legal status, she was ordered deported upon arriving ten minutes late to a hearing because her attorney misinformed her of the time. She subsequently lost two motions to reopen her case. Lucia was terrified at the prospect of leaving behind her two young U.S. citizen children, her U.S. citizen sister afflicted with breast cancer, and her permanent resident mother suffering from diabetes and hypertension. While held in immigration detention, the day before she was to be put on a plane and deported, Lucia reached out to the PAIR Detention Attorney, who negotiated the cancellation of Lucia’s removal order and got her case reopened. Lucia now has an excellent chance of obtaining her green card and remaining in the U.S. permanently with her family.
- “Jevera” is a high school student from the West Bank who was featured in an Emmy Award-winning documentary on how the Middle East conflict affects children in Palestine and Israel. Threatened by a pro-Palestinian liberation organization for promoting peace between Israeli and Palestinian youth, he fled the West Bank at the age of 16 and won asylum with the help of his PAIR attorney. He completed is studies in the U.S., is now an EMT and guest lectures at universities on ways to bridge relations between Palestinians and Israelis.