Immigration and Human Rights Clinic Helps Honduran Woman Win Asylum
On Feb. 12, U.S. Immigration Judge Audrey Carr granted asylum to a Honduran woman who is a client of the Law School’s Immigration and Human Rights Clinic.
While working as a transit police officer in Honduras, the client refused to accept bribes from gangs who sought to procure drivers licenses for their members and information about police operations. Because she refused to comply, the client was threatened by the gang and eventually she and her family were attacked by gunmen at their home. The client fears that if she returns to Honduras, she will be killed.
Judge Carr determined that the client’s claim of persecution on account of her membership in a particular social group and her political opinion of opposition to government corruption was valid. Former transit police officers who refused threats by gangs are seen as a group by Hondurans and have discrete boundaries. Corruption within Honduras’ national police is normal, if not expected. Therefore, those who do not participate become the targets of persecution merely because they refuse to abuse power.
3L Natacha Garcia, 3L Emily Ortlieb, and 2L Brittany Turany served as student attorneys, working alongside Professor Stephen Meili and performing much of the prep work, including helping to research and write the brief.
Ortlieb, the student director of the clinic, says that a particularly persuasive element of the case was expert testimony presented about the prevalence of corruption in the client’s region and line of work.
The case is not over yet, however; the government recently filed an appeal. Meili and the three students are already deep into strategizing and plan to vigorously defend the Immigration Judge’s findings. “Our client is exactly the type of person you would want here,” Meili says.