Our Firm prides itself on having the depth within our staff to assist clients in their most dire circumstances. By nature people have different talents. For instance, an individual may be a talented athlete but cannot draw a straight line. Likewise, someone may be a gifted artist but cannot catch a ball. With respect to practicing law, the talents and gifts that lawyers have are best suited to a case in a team effort. Some lawyers are wordsmiths and prefer to stay out of the courtroom while others are showmen who shine in the spotlight. Recently, our team efforts came together through the combined talents of two of our skilled and dedicated Associates, Melissa Dominguez, Esq. and Rebecca Rook, Esq. The following is their account of how they teamed up with our staff to secure a grant of asylum in a contested hearing:
YMF recently secured a grant of asylum for a Honduran National who had been the victim of severe physical and sexual violence in her home country despite the opposition of counsel from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Through our combined efforts our client can now remain safely in the United States without fear of persecution.
Our client was persecuted throughout her life by Mara 18 gang members in Honduras and by two males in her family. Gang members harassed and raped her, and then they threatened her because of her romantic relationships with members of the Honduran military. She was also sexually assaulted by her cousin's son and by her brother-in-law.
In the pre-hearing brief prepared by Ms. Dominguez, we clearly demonstrated that our client was targeted and persecuted on account of her membership in a particular social group (PSG): Young Honduran females who are targeted for sexual violence and threatened by gang members due to their relationship with members of the military. The case law was clearly on our client's side and in accordance with our argument as gender is recognized as a PSG. Further, this case was different from cases in which gang based violence was not a viable PSG because our client was targeted not on account of overall gang violence and attempted recruitment; rather, she was targeted on account of the fact that she is female and had two different relationships with men in the military. Ms. Dominguez persuasively made the distinction in her brief.
Ms. Rook represented our client at the Merits Hearing and presented the PSG to Counsel for DHS. Ms. Rook added the PSG of Honduran females who are viewed as property by virtue of their family ties to men. The case law supports this PSG as well because kinship and family ties have been recognized as viable components of a PSG. Counsel for DHS did not agree with the PSG, but Ms. Rook pushed forward confidently in a grant of asylum from the Immigration Judge. Our client exemplified strength of character during her testimony as she spoke of the details of the trauma she had endured. At the end of testimony, the Immigration Judge was so persuaded by Ms. Rook's arguments and convinced in the validity of the claim that she advocated on behalf of our client to DHS Counsel who finally agreed not to appeal the grant of asylum.
This win is an example of a team effort on the part of Youman, Madeo & Fasano, LLP to utilize ever changing immigration law in order to obtain an asylum grant for a woman who has endured more trauma than many people can even imagine.