MoFo News Item

Washington, D.C. MoFo Team Secures Asylum for Congolese Refugee

14 Feb 2020

Washington, D.C. litigation partner Mary Prendergast and associates Michelle Yocum and Jennifer Talbert secured a grant of asylum for a political activist from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Our client was forced to witness the murders of two of her children at the hands of a rebel militia, which caused her to join the progressive UDPS party at a time when its members were particularly at risk of government oppression. While attempting to speak out on behalf of UDPS, she was arrested, interrogated, and beaten, and later escaped and went into hiding. After charging our client with "high treason" merely for expressing her political beliefs, the DRC security services found and killed her husband, and she barely managed to escape and seek asylum in the United States in early 2012. MoFo began representing the client in 2013, and the Immigration Court finally heard her case this month.

Mary and Michelle represented our client at her hearing, where the judge intervened even before they could complete presentation of the evidence and granted asylum. Our client bravely chose to testify, abandoning an earlier motion to present her case through other evidence, in spite of her PTSD and the anxiety she feels upon discussing her ordeal. After hearing testimony from our client and her sister, who also fled the DRC and received asylum, the government agreed that our client qualified for asylum and supported the application, removing the threat of an appeal.

This matter was referred to the firm by Human Rights First in 2013. Mary, Michelle, and Jennifer were assisted by paralegal Sulay Ozturk-Gunertem, and Washington, D.C. senior of counsel Roxann Henry provided supervision.



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