Honduran Pro Bono Clients Secure Asylum in U.S.

March 24, 2023

Cleary Gottlieb successfully represented Ms. N and her two daughters, all natives of Honduras, in their defensive applications for asylum in the United States.

As a Garifuna women who is HIV positive, Ms. N endured severe persecution while living in Honduras. When she was only 26 years old, Ms. N was forcibly sterilized during a caesarian section procedure in a Honduran public hospital for the birth of her third child. While under general anesthesia, her doctor mentioned performing a procedure, but Ms. N did not comprehend what she was told. Ms. N then lost consciousness and was not aware that she had been sterilized, without her consent, until years later when she sought medical advice to understand why she could not get pregnant. As part of the asylum submission, Cleary retained a medical expert witness, who confirmed Ms. N’s forced sterilization, and a country conditions expert who explained that forced sterilization is a common practice against HIV-positive Garifuna Honduran women.

Ms. N further suffered domestic violence at the hands of her former partner, including physical, verbal, and sexual abuse. She also holds a reasonable and well-founded fear of future persecution, based on threats from her former partner and gangs in Honduras. These fears were informed by the fact that Ms. N’s beloved partner was murdered most likely by gang members who subsequently threatened to kill Ms. N and her daughters.

Cleary also argued that Ms. N merited asylum because she would no longer have access to the necessary, life-saving medication for her HIV treatment if she was forced to return to Honduras. Ms. N has been able to control her HIV-related symptoms with medicine she has been receiving in the United States—medicine that her doctor confirmed is inaccessible in Honduras.

The Cleary team worked with Ms. N and her two daughters to prepare and file their pre-hearing asylum submission. On March 20, 2023, after the Department of Homeland Security stipulated to asylum, the immigration judge granted Ms. N’s asylum, capping off over a year of heartfelt meetings, brief and affidavit writing, and intense hearing preparation.