Asylum, Withholding of Removal, Convention Against Torture
If you are afraid to go back to your home country due to fear that you may be harmed, we may be able to help. Since the 1950’s, refugees and asylum seekers have been protected by international and domestic refugee laws. In the U.S. the government cannot return a person to their home country if there is a credible fear established that the person will be persecuted based on their race, religion, national origin, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Under the Convention Against Torture, the U.S is also prohibited from forcing a person to return to a country where there are substantial grounds to believe he or she would suffer torture.
We encourage you to explore our site and specifically the pages that relate to the various types of Asylum law (political asylum, withholding of removal, and CAT relief) that we work with. Our clients come to us from all over the world often from traumatic circumstances where they have had little time to pull useful evidence or witnesses to document their fear of returning. Many of our clients have applied for relief on their own and did not realize how to document the case well and have come to us for help to save the case. Other clients have come to us to help represent them in court or to help file appeals of denied asylum cases.
As you will explore in these pages, asylum law is very complicated is very time-sensitive. It has deadlines that must be followed. Few attorneys can devote the time and effort needed to take a client from filing all the way through to appeal, if the case goes that far. But we do. Our attorneys are invested in this work. We find the work challenging and most of all, rewarding.When we are successful, a client who faces danger in his or her home country, is protected.
SGG’s asylum lawyers have represented victims of threats, abuse and torture for being whistleblowers, political activists, political dissidents, family members of politicians targeted for their political opinion, children fleeing gang recruitment, informants on organized crime, and others. Our team has also won asylum for those targeted due to their gender, sexual orientation, and religious beliefs. The breadth of SGG’s asylum advocacy makes us a formidable team.
We love what we do, however frustrating and long the days can be fighting for our clients’ rights before an agency and court system that is often too overworked that they don’t get it right. Over a 31 year period, Helen A. Sklar has represented asylum applicants from 43 different countries. Her victories on behalf of asylum applicants number in the hundreds. There are few asylum theories she has not argued before the immigration court. Here is how she describes her approach to asylum representation:
“In the early 1980’s, people throughout the world witnessed hundreds of thousands people fleeing their homelands in Central America. As a law student in the early 1980’s, I had been introduced to the Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, and to cases, codes and statutes spawned by those great documents. After doing my first asylum case, I decided that no matter where I ended up as a lawyer, I would represent refugees. That’s how important this work is to refugees and to the country obligated to protect them.”
We also have a strong connection to our community and regularly take on pro bono asylum cases as part of our work. In September 2014, SGG’s asylum team accepted the cases of six women and their children detained at Artesia, New Mexico. This pro bono effort, led by Taiyyeba Skomra, resulted in the clients’ release from custody. We continue to represent our clients in immigration courts throughout the U.S. One of our clients was granted asylum by an immigration judge after having been beaten and abused by her spouse over many years. The immigration judge found that she unable to leave the violent relationship and received no protection from the Guatemalan government. We are working on reuniting our client with her child who remained in their home country.
Warning: You may become ineligible for asylum if you do not file your application with the Asylum Office within one year of your entry to the U.S. Asylum cases are complicated! If you are planning to apply for asylum, be sure to seek competent legal counsel.