Bradley Gets Significant Win in Immigration Pro Bono Case

Issue

With the pro bono work of Bradley attorneys Erika Sonstroem and Kristen Brenchley, a Honduras woman escaped a lifetime of domestic violence.

Honduras is one of the most violent and deadliest places in the world for women and girls, with the majority of offences related to domestic and inter-family violence. Even worse, Honduras has a 95 percent impunity rate for violent crimes against women. According to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, “the lack of accountability for violations of human rights of women is the norm rather than the exception.”

More and more Honduran women are fleeing their homes to escape the violence, many of whom seek asylum in the United States. The Firm’s client Elizabeth* is one of those women. Elizabeth suffered more than 17 years of severe physical, mental and sexual abuse at the hands of her common law husband in Honduras. The Honduran government would not protect her because of her status as a woman in a domestic relationship.

Finally, it was her husband dousing her in gasoline and attempting to light her on fire that compelled Elizabeth to run for her life.

Challenge

Being granted asylum in the U.S. can be a long and difficult process, with no guarantee of success. The Tahirih Justice Center, a national nonprofit that has helped women and children fleeing violence since 1997, identified Elizabeth as a good candidate for pro bono assistance, and Bradley associates Erika Sonstroem and Kristen Brenchley took her case.

After five years of delays, Elizabeth’s Merits Hearing was finally held on August 14, 2017, in immigration court in Baltimore. Based on the strength of Kristen’s and Erika’s filings, ICE counsel did not oppose the asylum claim and, in fact, represented to the judge that asylum would be appropriate in Elizabeth’s case.

Solution

The judge granted Elizabeth asylum. The significance of this outcome goes to the very life and safety of Bradley’s client.

Elizabeth* has already become a productive member of U.S. society and an integral part of her community during the years she waited on the outcome of her case. She is exceedingly grateful to Kristen and Erika for representing her, telling them she would pray for them every night.

*The name of the client has been changed for her safety.