On September 29, 2022, Baker Botts attorneys successfully obtained asylum for a Firm pro bono client after seven years of advocacy. The client, now 24, fled Guatemala as a child in 2014, where she had been targeted by the transnational gang Mara-18 after the gang murdered immediate family members for refusing to pay extortion payments, among other reasons. The client was also abused by other family members and an ex-boyfriend while living in Guatemala.
Determined to find safety for herself and her newborn daughter, the client worked with Baker Botts attorneys in 2018 to file an asylum application based on the persecution she suffered from the Mara-18 gang and her abusive family members and ex-boyfriend. In September 2022, as the client's immigration court date finally neared, updated briefing was prepared, and expert testimony and evidence were marshalled on the client’s behalf. As Baker Botts made final preparations for trial, the briefing and evidence were submitted to the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) with a request that DHS consider stipulating to asylum due to the strength of the client's asylum case. Within two days, the DHS attorney agreed to stipulate to the grant of asylum and waived DHS's right to an appeal. At the hearing, the immigration court accepted the DHS's stipulation and granted the client asylum, noting that the record was extensive and impressive. The client is now on the path to receive a green card, and she has a secure and safe place to raise her family free from gang violence and abuse.
The asylum team included Lindsay Cutié, Michael Silliman, Spencer Packard, and Lori Ding. The special immigrant juvenile status team included Lindsay Cutié and Michael Silliman. Translation and interpretation was provided by Nora Rodriguez, Carlos Larios and Michelle Diaz.
Human Rights First (“HRF”) referred the client to Baker Botts after her removal proceedings had begun. Kids in Need of Defense (“KIND”), which partners with law firms and other organizations to represent unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children in their deportation proceedings, later took over HRF's role and advised Baker Botts in the immigration proceedings. A special thanks to Salma Hasan at KIND for her invaluable guidance and advice on this case.
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