Colombian Citizen Wins Political Asylum

July 14, 2006

Cleary Gottlieb won political asylum for Mr. R, a Colombian citizen who came to the United States in 2001 to escape death threats by the National Liberation Army (ELN), a violent guerilla group.

Cleary Gottlieb began working on the case soon after Mr. R first applied for asylum in December 2001. Cleary Gottlieb argued that Mr. R was eligible for asylum or withholding of removal because his persecution was based on (1) the ELN’s belief that Mr. R was its political opponent, a belief based on the fact that Mr. R had confiscated ELN paraphernalia during his service in the Colombian military and (2) Mr. R’s membership in a social group of former soldiers loyal to the government.

In January 2003, an Immigration Judge denied asylum but granted Mr. R withholding of removal under the Convention Against Torture, concluding that Mr. R would surely suffer death if returned to Colombia. In January 2005, the Board of Immigration Appeals upheld the ruling on asylum and reversed the grant of relief under the Convention Against Torture, leaving Mr. R vulnerable to removal. Cleary Gottlieb immediately appealed the Board’s ruling to the Second Circuit, arguing that both the Immigration Judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals had erred. Shortly after receiving Cleary Gottlieb’s appeal brief, the government agreed with Cleary Gottlieb’s argument that Mr. R qualifies for asylum based on his political opinion claim and said it would agree to a stipulation remanding the case to the Immigration Judge with a recommendation that he grant Mr. R political asylum. After a successful security and background check, the Immigration Court granted asylum to Mr. R on July 14, 2006.