Pro Bono Heroes

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Angela Korge, Associate, Greenberg Traurig

 

“As the daughter of an immigrant, I strongly believe that it is our duty to use the privilege of being an attorney to help others attain fair access to justice under the law, regardless of whether or not they are from the United States. This is especially true for those who emigrate to our country in hopes of a safer, better life as they face persecution if returned to their home country. Statistically, a respondent’s chances of receiving asylum in this country significantly increases when represented by an attorney. I feel so fortunate to be able to use my work to give those in need a better chance at a safe life and to honor the extreme obstacles many immigrants have overcome just to be safe.”

Angela Korge was successful in obtaining asylum in the United States for a Honduran national who is a lifelong activist for LGBT rights and a member of the LGBT community in her country. Due to the extreme prejudice against LGBT people in Honduras, this was truly a life or death matter for the client, who had been abducted, sexually assaulted, and endured almost daily harassment for years due to her identifying as a bisexual and an LGBT activist.

To achieve asylum for her client, Angela had to prove the violence she experienced was more than the violence people typically experience in Honduras, and that it was occurring solely due to the client’s sexual orientation. Also, because the client had previously attained a status of protection from the Interamerican Commission of Human Rights, Angela had to prove that Honduras’ police were not fulfilling this obligation.

“This case deeply spoke to me,” Angela said. “I felt strongly about helping someone who cared so much about helping others, even though she herself was in danger. It’s in situations like these that I truly appreciate the privilege of being able to serve those who deserve justice the most.”

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Mark Buchbinder

"As I watched the symbol and meaning of the Statue of Liberty being eroded by the policies of my government and the treatment of folks like my grandparents who fled tyranny and came to America to seek a better life, I could not sit idly by. I am a retired attorney and although I am not bilingual and knew nothing about immigration law have been able to use my legal skills at legal clinics and even helped the wife of a young couple achieve permanent resident status. We must all use our skills to give something back." - Mark Buchbinder

 

 

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Jack D. Finkelman, Packman, Neuwahl & Rosenberg

 

"One day when my grandchildren ask me 'Grandpa, way back then, when the world went all crazy, what did you do?' I don't want to answer, with an embarrassed glance and a shrug of my shoulders that I just stood idly by and wrung my hands.  I want to look them straight in the eyes and tell them that in my own small way, I did something concrete and meaningful to right the wrongs that I saw.  I want to show them by example that as crazy as the world can sometimes get, you should always be guided by your moral compass." - Jack D. Finkelman, Esq.

 

 

 

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Kyle Teal, Associate, Gunster

"My pro bono experience opened my eyes to the challenges that volunteers for Americans for Immigrant Justice, Lawyers for Children America , and other compassionate nonprofit attorneys endure every day while fighting to preserve the promise of the America dream.  It also gave me the opportunity to celebrate a child’s chance to stay in this great country – a place she calls home.  Ultimately, my experience strengthened my pride in our judicial system and reminded me that, as advocates, our most important battles are those we wage on behalf of our most vulnerable clients." - Kyle Teal

 

 

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Kimberly Rivera, Associate, Gunster

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"Prior to becoming an attorney, I was a public high school teacher for several years, five of which I spent in the South Bronx. My students’ experiences, vastly different from my own, have always stuck with me and especially those of my immigrant students.  The obstacles these children faced at times seemed insurmountable and I always regretted that I couldn’t do more than listen.  The opportunity to work with both Americans for Immigrant Justice and Lawyers for Children America allowed me  to revisit those past experiences and work towards ensuring our client -- an exceptionally bright, dedicated and ambitious young girl -- has the future she deserves here in the United States. I couldn’t be prouder of the work I’ve done with these organizations and, more importantly, of our client, whose hard work and determination to succeed epitomizes the American dream." -  Kimberly Rivera  

 

 

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Joshua Charles Prever, Of Counsel, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius

"It is truly amazing what happens when people stand-up for each other and are given the opportunity to do the right thing. Our client, a young Eritrean man, fled his homeland after he was tortured for questioning the government’s policies of forced labor.  He came to America seeking protection, knowing that returning to Eritrea was tantamount to a death sentence.  After accepting this case from Americans for Immigrant Justice, I along with other lawyers from Morgan Lewis presented the evidence to the Court; and Immigration Judge Barry S. Chait agreed that returning our client to Eritrea was not an option and refused to order his removal.  He is now living with family in the Washington D.C. area, and has a second chance—really a first chance at life.  I am proud that I stood up for him, that I had the support of my firm, and that in the end we were all able to do the right thing and protect someone that needed it." - Joshua Charles Prever

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Ashley D. Hamilton, Associate, Morgan Lewis & Bockius

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“As a junior attorney at big law firm, I look forward to opportunities to do pro bono work to connect with people and learn skills that I might not otherwise hone until later in my career. I recently volunteered to help an Eritrean asylum-seeker with his parole application because I thought it could make a big difference if we were successful. Our client’s parole application had been denied three times and his asylum claim was scheduled for trial before an immigration judge who denies 96% of the asylum cases that he hears. Through our efforts we were able to reunite our client with family in Oklahoma and he has a renewed opportunity to defend his right to remain the United States. Pro bono brings me back to the reason I and many of my colleagues went to law school – to help people in a tangible and accessible way.” - Ashley D. Hamilton 

Ashley D. Hamilton with Morgan Lewis’s Miami office successfully represented a detained asylum-seeker from Eritrea in his parole request with Immigrations & Customs Enforecement (ICE) at Broward Transitional Center. Ashley zealously advocated on behalf of her client and requested his parole from ICE. Because of Ashley’s pro bono legal representation, she was able to secure his release from BTC before his merits hearing at the Pompano Beach Immigration Court. Ashley’s client is one of the first Eritreans to be released from BTC under the new administration.

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Alison Brown, Associate, Holland & Knight

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"We all remember what living through our teenage years is like. I cannot imagine going through that time without a parent and in a situation where my safety and survival was uncertain. We knew filing and fully litigating a dependency action in less than 30 days would be extremely difficult. Recent court decisions significantly restricting the avenues to obtain dependency made success even more unlikely. But, we knew that without any help, this minor would most certainly be denied any chance at immigration status. So, we took a chance and were overjoyed with the result and the future possibilities the minor may now have." - Alison Brown

Alison Brown at Holland and Knight worked diligently to ensure dependency was granted for an orphan child. She made it a priority to be thoroughly prepared and was dedicated to familiarizing herself with the dependency statute.  The court found that the child had no parent or legal custodian capable of providing supervision or care. The child will now be eligible for protection in the United States via Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. The case was placed with Holland and Knight through the assistance of Carolyn Salisbury, Director of the Lawyers for Children America Miami Office. We also received local court practices insight from Maryam Kassaee, Attorney at Legal Aid of Palm Beach County.

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Ian Ross, Partner, Stumphauzer Foslid Sloman Ross & Kolaya PLLC

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Ian Ross has taken on at least six cases pro bono that were referred to him by AI Justice. Additionally, as a former shareholder at Greenberg Traurig, Mr. Ross has encouraged and inspired other attorneys to take on complex pro bono matters and has served as co-counsel and mentor while they fight for the rights of vulnerable immigrants and asylum seekers. He has been instrumental in organizing a number of trainings and recruitment efforts for pro bono attorneys at the firm.

Mr. Ross’s commitment to his pro bono clients has never wavered. He represented a Venezuelan couple who fled severe political persecution after being kidnapped and shot. In that particular case Mr. Ross fought for their release from immigration detention. However, once he obtained their liberty he did not stop there and continued to represent the couple in their asylum case before the immigration court, a process which has lasted well over two years. Most recently, Mr. Ross was quick to assist when an AI Justice attorney reached out to him to obtain pro bono representation for an African asylum seeker who had a hearing rapidly approaching. This asylum seeker was a torture survivor who fled his country due to religious persecution and had been languishing in immigration detention for months. Due to Mr. Ross's determination and hard work, the asylum seeker was released from detention.  AI Justice staff personally witnessed when Mr. Ross's client thanked him and told him, "you saved my life" as tears streamed down his cheeks. Without Mr. Ross's willingness to step in and take these complex and challenging cases deserving asylum seekers would no doubt still be languishing in detention or perhaps sent back to torture or their death. In that sense, Mr. Ross is truly a lifesaver. 

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AI Justice is an award-winning non-profit law and advocacy firm that protects and promotes the basic human rights of immigrants. In Florida and on a national level, we champion the rights of unaccompanied immigrant children; advocate for survivors of trafficking and domestic violence; serve as a watchdog on immigration detention practices and policies; and speak for immigrant groups who have particular and compelling claims to justice.