September 06, 2011

Jenner & Block recently successfully represented pro bono client Zakaria Bullen Wani Site in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, in one of the first deportation proceedings involving someone from the newly founded Republic of South Sudan.  On August 26, 2011, the court vacated removal of Mr. Wani Site and ordered the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to devise a protocol for dealing with future deportations involving the newly recognized country. The client’s family fled Sudan to avoid persecution by the Sudanese government during a violent civil war that began in 1983.  Mr. Wani Site was admitted into the United States as a refugee and, in 2007, he became a permanent resident.  He was subject to removal proceedings after being convicted of a crime a year later.  He sought deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture, claiming that the Sudanese government would detain and torture him upon arrival in Khartoum because he is a failed asylum seeker and he fled Sudan in part to evade conscription in the Sudanese military.  Mr. Wani Site’s petition was denied by an immigration judge (IJ).  After the BIA affirmed the IJ’s analysis, an appeal was filed with the Seventh Circuit on behalf of Mr. Wani Site. The case included a novel development when, a month after the June 9 oral arguments, South Sudan, the area of Sudan that had been Mr. Wani Site’s home, declared independence from Sudan.  South Sudan was recognized as a new republic, fundamentally changing the geopolitical circumstances framing Mr. Wani Site’s petition. Jenner & Block Associate Damon Thayer managed the briefing process and presented oral argument in the case.  Partner Brent Caslin led the team, which also included Associate David L. Russell.  Associates William K. Pao and Jean Marie Doherty and Summer Associates Christina Avedissian, Kathleen J. Jones, and Nayiri Keosseian assisted as moot court judges in preparation for the oral argument.  The Jenner & Block team also worked with the National Immigrant Justice Center on Mr. Wani Site’s case.