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Gray Plant Mooty Volunteer Attorneys Win Remand at the BIA
11/22/2006 12:10 PM

 

The Gray Plant Mooty volunteer attorney team prevailed before the Board of Immigration Appeals, winning remand for their client, an asylum seeker from Somalia. Dean Eyler, Liz Street, and Refugee and Immigrant Program Steering Committee member Max Schott argued that their client's previous attorney had provided ineffective assistance of counsel by failing to file documents in support of the client's claim for asylum with the immigration court.  

Ms. S-, a member of the Benadiri clan, fled Somalia soon after the outbreak of the civil conflict in 1991.  Members of an armed militia faction invaded Ms. S's home in Mogadishu.  Her sister was dragged into the bedroom, raped and killed while the family was held at gunpoint.  When her brother attempted to intervene he too was killed.  Ms. S's father was beaten and shot in the leg.  Ms. S and her mother were beaten and threatened, and Ms. S was struck with the butt of a rifle. 

Following the attack, Ms. S and her family fled to a refugee camp in Kenya.  In the camp, Ms. S's family fear for her safety, as other young girls from minority clans were the targets of theft, rape and killings within the confines of the camp.  Her parents sent her to live with relatives in Nairobi, where she remained until coming to the U.S.  While living there, several of Ms. S's extended family members were deported to Somalia by Kenyan authorities, where they were later killed.  Continuing to fear for her safety, Ms. S arranged to travel to the United States.

Once in the United States, Ms. S applied for asylum.  She was represented by counsel, who failed to amend her application with a statement provided by Ms. S; failed to file and serve documents provided by Ms. S in support of her claim, failed to obtain or introduce other evidence to corroborate her testimony; and failed to identify and prepare witnesses. Importantly, prior counsel failed to present evidence or to inquire about female genital mutilation suffered by Ms. S.

The Board of Immigration Appeals remanded the case to the Immigration Judge.  A hearing is scheduled for March 2007.