Blog Entry 15
Winning is not everything and sometimes we learn more from losing than winning. That's all fine and good but winning still beats losing and some wins are sweeter than others. A client of the Immigration Law Clinic recently experienced a particularly sweet victory: not only does the decision mean that our client will not have to return to a country where she was tortured but it also gives her access to a life full of opportunities she would not have in her home country. Our client is a young woman who is deaf. Her father was involved in a peaceful political opposition movement advocating for democracy and human rights. She was an easy target when the government troops stormed their house because she did not hear them and had no time to run away. She was brutally tortured in an effort to punish her father for his actions.
The Asylum Office in Chicago granted our client asylum after a lengthy interview. Students (and their professor) left for the interview at 4:00 a.m., drove straight to Chicago, conducted four interviews and drove straight back to Detroit and arrived home well after midnight. The interview itself was challenging: we had to arrange for two interpreters in her native language and then in the form of sign language used in her country. So keeping track of the thread of questioning was difficult. At the time, exhaustion and stress were the prevailing mood although we knew we had prepared a solid application and our client had done well in the interview. Imagine the relief and joy on the part of our client (and students) on the news that she was granted asylum!
This decision will allow this bright woman to gain from and give back so much to her adopted country. In her home country, she would live a marginal existence and not have the opportunity to advance her education or to work. In the U.S., she can complete her education and go out to serve others with disabilities. Our asylum process is designed to offer protection to persons who have suffered persecution but, in this case, it is truly a win-win for this young woman and the U.S., as we all have so much to gain from her being allowed to build a life in the U.S.
All clients are special and unique but success for this client in some ways means more than for others. For the students who worked with this client, it was a lesson in legal skills as well as humility.