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CARES Clinic Students Reflect on Winning Asylum Case Experience

Case Summary:

          While most 21 year old U.S citizens are dreaming of college graduation, Luisa*, a young South American woman, dreamed of a life free from violence and pain. Brutally and repeatedly beaten by her domestic partner, she could not count on the police for help. The police brushed off the abuse as “a family problem she would need to figure out herself.” Furious that Luisa had the courage to call the authorities, her partner’s rage intensified and the abuse became even more vicious. To save her own life, Luisa secretly fled to the U.S. with only the clothes on her back.

          After joining a friend in Pennsylvania in early 2015, Luisa was referred to the CARES Clinic by a non-profit immigration resource center. With the assistance of a CARES team of student attorneys, Jen Healey ‘17 and Danny White ‘16, she submitted an asylum application in immigration court. Luisa began to build a new life.

Now a 25 year-old working mother of three, Luisa’s life and outlook have changed dramatically. Luisa’s oldest child has serious medical issues, making a grant of asylum even more imperative for Luisa.

In the fall of 2017, Advanced CARES certified interns Melisa Buchoweic and Omeed Forouzi accepted Luisa’s case. It was a busy semester. Locating expert witnesses, facilitating a psychological evaluation, interviewing Luisa and composing her affidavit, writing a brief, organizing numerous “moots,” and compiling an impressive court submission, Melisa and Omeed tirelessly and diligently prepared for Luisa’s individual hearing on the merits of the case (Merits Hearing).

The Merits Hearing took place in January 2018.  Based on the overwhelming evidence presented by Melisa and Omeed, the immigration judge unequivocally granted Luisa humanitarian asylum citing severe past persecution. Opposing counsel waived its right to appeal. Luisa may live safely in the U.S. She now has the courage and opportunity to create new dreams.

*Not her real name.

CARES student Melisa Buchowiec's reflection on this experience.

Melissa Buchowiec and Omeed Firouzi
CARES Clinic students Melisa Buchowiec and Omeed Firouzi win asylum case. Read their reflections on this experience under Clinic News.

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