Opening Doors for New Americans since 1882
On December 19, 2013, the pro bono team at Ballard Spahr, which included Renée Nunley Smith, Sarah Schindler-Williams and Jenny Perkins, won an asylum hearing for a HIAS Pennsylvania client referred to Ballard in July 2012. "Christina"* had fled Honduras in order to escape the repeated physical and emotional abuse of her ex-boyfriend (and the father of her son), which began when she was 14 and continued until she left. Her life was threatened on multiple occasions, but Christina was unable to get away from him, nor did she have a place to turn to for protection. Honduras is a notoriously violent country, does not believe in women's rights, and refuses to offer protection to women trying to evade abusive situations. Christina escaped and made her way to the United States by traveling to, and being smuggled through, the Texas border.
Although the trevails Chrstina faced are clearly heart-rendering, the law was not necessarily on her side. Gender-based persecution is a very tricky issue under asylum law, but the team at Ballard did a tremendous job of developing the case, preparing Christina for testimony, and briefing the issues. After the hearing, the government agreed not to appeal the decision, and so Christina, now 19, is able to live freely and without persecution with her son in the United States and away from her abuser.
Many thanks to the pro bono practice group at Ballard Spahr for taking on this case and leading it - once again! - to victory.
*Legal client names are changed for their protection and anonymity.