Clinic Wins Asylum for Honduran Single Mother

Students in the Refugee & Immigration Law Clinic celebrated a long-fought victory in March, winning asylum for a single mother and her young son in the Honolulu Immigration Court. This Honduran family fled to the U.S. after the mother became a victim of sustained Gender-Based Sexual Violence, or GBSV. Adding to the injury, her tormentor also tried to forcibly take over the family farm her extended family depended upon for subsistence. 

Asylum law is very complex, and the Immigration Judge ruled against our client in the initial phase of the case, finding that the law could not cover “private acts of criminality.” Our students took the case on appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals, arguing that the scale of violent misogyny in Honduras demonstrated that the government was unable or unwilling to afford basic protection to its female citizens. By the time the Board remanded the case for a new hearing, new case law gave our case a lift, and our clients prevailed. 

The Clinic opened this case file in Fall of 2018, so many hands worked on the case through its various stages. WSRSL grads Kenory Khuy ‘19, Taylor Brack ‘19 and Carl Berquist ’19 managed the case from the start, and Beverlyn Simina ’20 and Turner Wong ‘22 followed up on remand. Turner submitted a powerful and persuasive brief to the Immigration Court for the remand hearing, and in the end, the Immigration Judge granted our clients asylum. 

Live-client clinics offer students an opportunity to work on real cases and interact with clients in a face-to-face modality. Students make appearances in the Immigration Court and work to resolve case issues in real time as they arise. Motions practice and transactional applications work fill out the work agenda. Students in the Clinic work hard for their three credits, but when they win a case like this one, the rewards go well beyond grade points. It is no exaggeration to say that these students have made a better and safer life possible for this family.