Providing dedicated support to those seeking refuge from persecution.
Bringing Families Together
For vulnerable people who come to this country seeking refuge from persecution, a dedicated attorney can make all the difference.
That’s been true for Marcel, who was arrested and beaten in his home country of Cameroon because of his political affiliations and crossed the border into the U.S. in the fall of 2016. Arriving in Washington, D.C., Marcel was connected to DWT’s Pat Curran via a referral from Catholic Charities.
In the years since, Pat has assisted Marcel in multiple ways. He helped him get a work authorization so he could support himself—and then get a replacement after his wallet was stolen. He worked with local counsel on Marcel’s asylum petition, which he won, and on responding to the government’s appeal, which he also won.
In December 2019, Marcel was arrested for a traffic infraction and Pat placed many calls to the jail and helped get him a public defender. After securing asylum for Marcel, Pat then helped him prepare an Asylee Relative Petition so he could reunite with his family. In February 2022, the government finally approved the form for Marcel’s wife and younger children. And eleven months later, Marcel called Pat to let him know he and his family were together again — for the first time in more than six years.
Meanwhile, Pat’s advocacy continues. Pat has submitted a green card application, on Marcel’s behalf, which will give Marcel’s older children a better chance to come to the U.S.
This kind of work requires persistence, patience, tremendous attention to detail, and a lot of heart. “The biggest challenge involves dealing with a faceless bureaucracy with months-long wait times,” said Pat. “There’s no one at USCIS you can call to get clarification on a question and the client struggles to understand why everything takes so long. Lots and lots of paperwork that needs to be perfect lest your client get pushed to the back of the line because of a minor clerical error.”
But the payoff, and changing a family’s life for the better, is invaluable. Pat said that informing Marcel of the I-730 approval “was one of the best calls I’ve made since I started practicing law.”
Protecting Activists from Targeted Deportation
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has engaged in a pattern and practice of selectively enforcing immigration laws against outspoken immigrant rights activists. These activists have been investigated, surveilled, detained, and, in some cases, deported immediately following press appearances and news conferences. We’ve sued to stop this unconstitutional activity, which violates not only the First Amendment but the rights to due process and equal protection. In 2022, a federal judge rejected, for the third time, ICE’s bid to get the suit dismissed.
Ambika Kumar, Chris Swift, Nicholas Wegley, and Nara Neves are handling the case on behalf of La Resistencia NW, a grassroots, undocumented-led movement that works to end the detention of immigrants and stop all deportations.
In 2022, DWT dedicated over 1600 hours toward immigration cases.
Achieving Residency for Human Trafficking Survivors
Despite leading DWT’s energy group, Co-Chair Vidhya Prabhakaran gives his time and talent toward pro bono immigration cases. He recently won permanent residency for his client, a survivor of human trafficking, and her husband.