Robertson Freilich Attorneys Win Asylum For Trinidadian National

Tuesday, January 1, 2008 - 00:00

Robertson, Freilich, Bruno & Cohen, LLC attorneys Elizabeth Koniers Brown and Fanny A. Flikshtein have earned asylum for a pro bono client in a case brought by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the Immigration Court. In a particularly complex case, Ms. Brown and Ms. Flikshtein successfully represented Mr. Jesse Hanes (a pseudonym has been used to protect the defendant's privacy), a gay, HIV-positive Trinidadian national living in New York.

In 2004, Mr. Hanes was detained by ICE in Miami, Florida while visiting a friend, and, unrepresented, was ordered removed by an immigration judge. Mr. Hanes appealed to the Bureau of Immigration Appeals (BIA) which reversed and remanded the case, finding that the immigration judge had not properly advised Mr. Hanes of the relief available to him. A change of venue to New York was also granted.

Mr. Hanes was granted asylum in his most recent hearing because as a gay, HIV-positive man, he is a member of a particular social group, and because he established past persecution in Trinidad based upon his sexual orientation.Although Mr. Hanes had been in the United States for approximately 22 years before seeking asylum, the immigration judge found the delay reasonable in light of extraordinary and changed circumstances - Mr. Hanes's HIV status and documented psychiatric conditions. ICE waived appeal in the case, making the decision final. As an asylee, Mr. Hanes is permitted to remain in the United States indefinitely and he can apply for legal permanent residence after one year.

Robertson Freilich accepted Mr. Hanes's representation on a pro bono basis, through a referral from Immigration Equality. Immigration Equality is a national organization that works to end discrimination in U.S. immigration law, to reduce the negative impact of that law on the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and HIV-positive people, and to help obtain asylum for those persecuted in their home country based on their sexual orientation, transgender identity or HIV-status.