Pro Bono Panel Update: Spring 2019

Trainings & Workshops

On March 7, ILAP provided a CLE training for 30 current and prospective Pro Bono Panel members on how to create a strong affirmative asylum case (cases decided by USCIS rather than in Immigration Court). Leading the session was our new Asylum Attorney, Michelle Gentry, whose in-depth knowledge of asylum was evident throughout the well-received presentation. Thank you to Pierce Atwood for hosting.

In February, ILAP held its first community workshop for pro se asylum applicants who entered the US via the southern border and, as a result, must appear in Immigration Court. This complicated and Kafka-esque process is incredibly challenging to navigate without legal guidance. In May, ILAP held a similar workshop in Lewiston and, in February and April, we partnered with UMaine Law’s Refugee & Human Rights Clinic to provide workshops for pro se asylum seekers with cases with USCIS.

Successes

In January, Pro Bono Panel member Wayne Jortner won asylum for an Angolan man and his family under the new “Last In, First Out” (LIFO) policy. Miriam Johnson of Berman Simmons also received a grant of asylum (her second with ILAP) for a Djiboutian woman whose case had been pending since 2015. These victories were hard-earned and a much needed morale boost at a time when the Boston Asylum Office is denying most affirmative cases. Congratulations, Wayne and Miriam!

ILAP’s 2018 Pro Bono Firm of the Year award went to Bernstein Shur, where nearly two dozen attorneys represent asylum seekers. Arnie MacDonald—Bernstein super achiever—alone has three clients in Immigration Court and another case pending with USCIS. We are proud to also recognize Daniel Keenan of McCloskey, Mina, Cunniff & Frawley as our 2018 Pro Bono Attorney of the Year. Dan was willing to take on a difficult defensive case as his first ILAP pro bono client— and he won.

Join Our Work

The Boston Asylum Office estimates that there are currently 2,000 asylum applications pending from Maine residents, most of whom are fleeing violence in Central Africa. To find out more about providing life-changing asylum representation, contact Asylum Program Director Jennifer Bailey at jbailey@ilapmaine.org.

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