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Client Success

Maslon Obtains Immigration Relief for LGBTQ+ Pro Bono Clients from Nigeria and Guatemala

June 13, 2019

Maslon proudly and successfully provided pro bono representation to two LGBTQ+ people who sought to stay in the United States after fleeing anti-LGBTQ+ persecution in their home countries. Both cases were referred to Maslon attorneys by the Advocates for Human Rights, a Minnesota-based non-profit.

In one case, Maslon represented a Nigerian man who fled Nigeria after he was outed to the police. He came to the Twin Cities to begin his life anew in relative safety. In Nigeria, those found guilty of homosexuality face up to 14 years of prison due to the federal Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act of 2014, and several northern states in the country impose penalties of death by stoning based on an extreme interpretation of Islamic law. Additionally, homophobia is widespread, with LGBTQ+ people facing assault and worse. For many LGBTQ+ people from Nigeria, asylum in the United States is a means for survival. In April 2019, our client received notice from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that he had been granted asylum in the United States. Former Maslon attorney Hillary Taylor, who is now an Assistant Attorney General in the Office of the Minnesota Attorney General, and Maslon attorney Tom Pack, represented this attorney in his bid for asylum.

In another case, Maslon represented a Guatemalan woman who fled Guatemala after years of anti-LGBTQ+ persecution. In Guatemala, LGBTQ+ people are the victims of violent crime, including murder, at alarmingly high rates. While the Guatemalan government does not criminalize homosexuality or other forms of LGBTQ+ identification, the police and other government actors often inflict severe persecution on LGBTQ+ people, particularly on transgender women and indigenous members of the LGBTQ+ community. In June 2019, after voluminous written submissions and evidence but before the removal trial, the Department of Homeland Security agreed to stipulate to withholding of removal for this client. The immigration judge noted the appropriateness of this result, given the thorough preparation of the client's case by Maslon attorneys Tom Pack and Judah Druck.

Maslon was deeply gratified to have played a part in giving these clients the chance to live peacefully and without persecution. Protecting the rights of LBGTQ+ people internationally is a critical need, and Maslon attorneys continue to take on cases with similarly situated pro bono clients.

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