Salvadoran Pro Bono Client Wins Asylum

April 22, 2008

Cleary Gottlieb successfully represented E.A., a Salvadoran national, in winning a grant of asylum from the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). Mr. A had fled El Salvador due to the severe persecution he suffered on account of his sexual and gender identity, including repeated assaults at the hands of the Salvadoran police and military. Mr. A had previously been denied asylum by both the immigration judge and the BIA, which had held that the abuse Mr. A had suffered did not constitute persecution, and that he had not shown that the El Salvadoran government was unable or unwilling to control the abuse.

Following this denial of asylum, Immigration Equality referred the case to Cleary Gottlieb, which then represented Mr. A in his appeal to the Ninth Circuit. Cleary Gottlieb argued to the Ninth Circuit that the many incidents of assault constituted persecution, and that because government actors had perpetrated the persecution, no showing that the government was “unable or unwilling” to stop the abuse was necessary. In an unusual turn of events, the Department of Justice agreed with Cleary Gottlieb’s arguments and rather than oppose the appeal, requested that the Ninth Circuit remand the case to BIA for reconsideration based on Cleary Gottlieb’s arguments.

On remand, Mr. A, who has remained detained in a prison facility for two and a half years while his case was pending, finally won relief when BIA reversed its prior decision and granted asylum.