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Baker Botts Houston Attorneys Win Asylum for Nigerian Woman in Pro Bono Representation


HOUSTON, November 15, 2023 – Baker Botts senior associate Steve Maule (Houston, IP) and recent Baker Botts alumnus Brandon Chen (Senior Corporate Counsel, Targa Resources) successfully represented a client from Nigeria in asylum proceedings based on persecution for her opposition to female genital mutilation (FGM). The team also included Baker Botts senior associate Michael Silliman (Houston, IP), associate Lori Ding (Houston, IP), and Tahirih attorney Mailin Maldonado.

The client was tortured, abused, and harassed by family members based on her opposition to FGM. To protect her daughters from FGM and herself from further persecution, she fled to the United States for asylum and, with delays and rescheduled hearings due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the backlog at the Houston Immigration Court, had been anticipating a hearing for more than ten years.

The client’s individual merits hearing was held remotely before Immigration Judge Allan John-Baptiste. Despite cross examination and arguments from the Department of Homeland Security, Judge John-Baptiste found the client was entitled to asylum and a discretionary grant of humanitarian asylum based on the client’s testimony, the experts’ testimony, as well as extensive evidence presented to the Court on the prevalence of FGM in Nigeria and the Nigerian government’s unwillingness to intervene. Over 10 years of representation, Baker Botts submitted multiple filings for this and previously scheduled merits hearings, including asylum briefs, supporting declarations, and expert affidavits. The team also prepared and filed work authorization requests to enable the client to provide for herself and her children while awaiting her asylum trial.

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