December 6, 2019 – Hughes Hubbard is assisting two asylum seekers detained at the U.S.-Mexico border after they fled their native countries to escape political persecution.
HHR has partnered with the South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR), part of the ABA Commission on Immigration, located in Harlingen, Texas. ProBAR is a national effort to provide pro bono legal services to asylum seekers and immigrants detained in South Texas. The Commission directs the ABA's efforts to ensure fair treatment and full due process rights for immigrants, asylum-seekers and refugees within the United States. ProBAR provides legal services to both adult asylum seekers and children who have been separated from their parents and families at the border.
From the hundreds of detained adult asylum-seekers held in the Port Isabel Detention Center near Harlingen, Texas, ProBAR selected two adults to initiate the pro bono relationship with HHR.
The first client, O.F., is a 22-year old Honduran rap artist whose song went viral and has been used by anti-government protestors. Based on his song and media appearances, the government and police targeted him as an anti-government supporter who instigated social protests against the ruling party. O.F. was arrested and severely beaten by the police in February 2019.
The second client, L.B., is a 28-year old from Guatemala. He worked as a community liaison for a municipal government and, in June 2019, was beaten and threatened by members of an opposing political party in the lead-up to local elections. The opposition political party and the local police are widely associated with an international drug trafficking cartel and, after seeking help from the police, L.B. received a death threat.
An HHR team traveled to South Texas Oct. 23-27 to meet with O.F. and L.B at the Port Isabel Detention Center. Led by Roel Campos, the team included Calvin Liu, Chesley Burruss and Ayushi Kokroo.
Burruss will lead the effort to obtain O.F.'s release on bond and asylum relief at a merits hearing. L.B. obtained release on bond in a pro se hearing held on Oct. 24, and Liu will serve as the team lead in drafting the merits brief and at the merits hearing. Others in the D.C. office have also volunteered their time to assist with HHR's representation of O.F. and L.B., including with brief writing and editing.
"We believe that it is important for all lawyers to be aware of what is occurring at this moment at the U.S.-Mexico border with regard to those who legally seek asylum," Campos said. "The HHR volunteer lawyers and paralegals participating in the ProBAR project will receive outstanding training in immigration law and courtroom advocacy. We want to do our part, if only slightly, to balance the scales of justice for those asylum seekers who have no voice."