November 20, 2018 — Hughes Hubbard secured asylum for a pro bono client who had been arrested and detained in New Jersey after fleeing her native Nigeria to escape severe physical and sexual abuse based on her sexual orientation.
The client, 35, fled to the United States in May 2018, two months after she was forced to sit on a hot stove at knife-point by her husband, which led to a two-week hospitalization. The abuse began after her husband discovered that she is a lesbian. She could not turn to the police because homosexuality is a crime punishable by a 14-year sentence in Nigeria.
Afraid for her life, she escaped the hospital, obtained a visa and flew to New York. She was arrested at JFK International Airport and taken to an immigration detention center in New Jersey.
HHR successfully represented her in the Elizabeth Immigration Court in New Jersey, arguing that she deserved asylum because of past and probable future persecution based on her sexual orientation. On Nov. 8, the court granted her asylum and she was released from detention. The government has indicated that it will not appeal the decision.
Erin Diers, Alyssa Johnson, Elizabeth Beitler, Joanne Liu and paralegal Evan Ringel worked on the case with supervision from Katie Coleman.