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Jenner & Block Associate Daniel W. Bobier and a team of firm lawyers recently won asylum for a woman and her young son who fled to the United States from Guatemala to escape severe domestic violence.
Our client and her infant son were living with a man who had become abusive, frequently beating both of them over the course of more than a year and threatening to hunt her down and kill her if she tried to leave. Going to the authorities was not an option because, according to the testimony of a country conditions expert at the hearing, Guatemala has a history of tolerance of domestic abuse and high rates of femicide; its police do not intervene in domestic violence cases or, if anything, they side with the abuser.
In the Fall of 2015, our client was finally able to sneak out of the man’s apartment and contact her sister, who arranged for her and her son to get to the United States and the National Immigrant Justice Center in Chicago. In December 2016, the case was placed on an expedited hearing calendar by the immigration judge and Jenner & Block agreed to represent her.
Claims for asylum based on domestic violence is a developing area of law and can present difficult issues of proof. The victim may lack the needed evidence to show she was severely abused and unable to leave the relationship and that she could not relocate within her native country or obtain assistance from police or other authorities.
Despite these hurdles and the compressed schedule, Mr. Bobier was able to obtain the necessary documentation from the client and two experts, draft the necessary brief and reports, handle the entire hearing, and convince the immigration judge to grant our client asylum. The government waived its right to appeal.
In addition to Mr. Bobier, the team included Partner Lawrence S. Schaner, who supervised and worked closely with Mr. Bobier, and Project Assistant Charlotte Stretch, who provided crucial Spanish-English translation assistance with additional help from Staff Attorney Leonardo Morales. Partners Wade A. Thomson and Megan B. Poetzel, Associate Garrett Fitzsimmons and Alan J. Iverson, and Project Assistant Nicole E. DiOrio also made valuable contributions.