Years of Work Leads to Citizenship

After many years of hard work, we successfully obtained asylum status for a client who had worked for the government of the department of Huila in Colombia. One of his duties was to settle disputes in various municipalities, and as a result of some of his decisions, he came to the attention of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (known by its Spanish acronym, FARC). In 1997, he was abducted at gunpoint by the FARC and forced into the trunk of an automobile, but he managed to escape. He later fled to the United States and applied for asylum. The government opposed his application and, after trial, an Immigration Judge denied his application. The Immigration Judge did, however, agree with our arguments over the government’s objections that (1) our client was eligible for asylum despite not having formally filed for it within one year of arriving in the United States due to certain extraordinary circumstances and (2) that our client’s testimony was indeed credible. We appealed the denial of asylum relief to the Board of Immigration Appeals, which historically affirms the denial of relief to applicants in a very high percentage of appeals. In this case, however, the Board agreed that the persecution our client suffered was a result of his actual or imputed political opinion. The Board reversed the Immigration Judge and ordered that our client be granted asylum. As a result of the decision, our client will be able to remain in the United States, eligible for certain government benefits, able to get a green card, and, after a number of years, able to become a citizen. John Stapleton and other firm attorneys handled the matter.