Jenner & Block

Pro Bono Partnership with Allstate Yields “Rarely” Granted Gang-Based Asylum

Our client owned a small business in El Salvador, and one of the country’s most violent and powerful gangs began extorting him and his family in 2013.  When he refused to hide their guns in his business, gang members beat him into unconsciousness.  While our client was in the hospital, the police raided one of the gang’s safe houses and arrested multiple gang members.  The gang began accusing our client of collaborating with the police and threatening to kill him, and he and his family fled to the United States and found their way to the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) in Chicago.

At the outset of the hearing in 2016, the immigration judge told our client that gang-based asylum claims are at the “cutting edge” of asylum law and “rarely” granted.  The judge urged him to consider a government offer of administrative closure – a procedural mechanism that would stop him and his family from being sent back to El Salvador but leave them with no status in the United States.  When, after consultation with his lawyers, our client declined that offer, the hearing proceeded.  On September 26, 2016, the judge granted asylum to our client and his family, who expressed gratitude to the United States for giving them a “second chance” at life.

Allstate in-house counsel Dolores Ayala partnered with the Jenner & Block team, which included Partner Wade A. Thomson and Associate Alan J. Iverson, Staff Attorney Veronica Maldonadoand Summer Associate Vaishalee Yeldandi.

TAGS: Litigation

PEOPLE: Wade A. Thomson

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