October 8, 2013
Loeb & Loeb LLP achieved an appellate victory in a pro bono asylum case on behalf of a doctor from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) who was detained and tortured by the DRC for treating civilian victims of police repression and cooperating with international human rights observers documenting the dead and injured. The client was granted asylum in the United States two years ago but remained separated from his family while the government appealed the decision. After a lengthy legal fight, the Board of Immigration Appeals dismissed the appeal, allowing the client to reunite with his wife, daughter and critically ill young son.
Loeb & Loeb’s client feared for his life in the DRC, where he was deemed a traitor and threatened with extermination. He fled the country in 2008, forced to leave his family behind. Shortly after he left, the DRC police arrested his wife, raped her, and threatened to kill her if she did not disclose her husband’s location.
Based on the persecution that he suffered in the DRC, the Immigration Judge (IJ) granted the doctor asylum in 2011 over the government’s objection. The government appealed the decision based on its belief that the doctor was engaged in "terrorist activities" since he gave small donations to a religious-political organization in the DRC, making him ineligible for asylum in the United States.
The appeal was pending for more than two years, notwithstanding a motion to expedite due to the diagnosis of a brain tumor in the client’s young son. The Board’s decision to affirm the IJ’s grant of asylum, which determined that the client did not know and should not reasonably have known that his donations would have been connected to any terrorist activity, will reinstate the client’s eligibility for asylum and enable his family to join him in the United States where his son can receive proper medical treatment.
This pro bono case was jointly handled by Loeb & Loeb attorneys Laura A. Wytsma and Rachel Rappaport in conjunction with Public Counsel’s Immigrant’s Rights Project.
Loeb & Loeb has represented asylum seekers from across the globe, including Cameroon, Ethiopia, Mexico, El Salvador and Kenya, among other nations, who are fleeing persecution or domestic abuse. The firm’s pro bono work with Public Counsel has resulted in several significant victories before the immigration courts and helped numerous individuals avoid deportation and the threat of violence or death in their native countries.