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December 2, 2011
domestic violence

Daniela* was recently granted asylum after a long, trying journey. Daniela’s success would not have been possible without a collaborative effort between attorneys in Tahirih Greater DC and Houston offices and a team of pro bono attorneys at Mayer Brown LLP.

Daniela is from Central America, where she suffered over two decades of severe physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her boyfriend, the father of her children. She was hospitalized on three occasions from the abuse, once incapacitated for over a year. She tried multiple times to seek help, calling the police and successfully obtaining a protective order. However, the police were not able to protect her. Daniela’s boyfriend was never jailed for more than a few days at a time, and he ignored the protective order and continued his abuse.

In 2005, Daniela felt she’d run out of options in her home country and fled to the United States to file for asylum. She appeared before a court in Texas, and her request for asylum was granted. However, the government appealed. Due to the unsettled nature of the law surrounding gender-based asylum, her case was pending for several years. During this time of extreme uncertainty, Daniela moved to Virginia.

After years of waiting, Daniela’s next hearing was set for 2011—in Texas, impossibly far from her new home. The court refused to transfer her case to Virginia. She could not afford to pay a private attorney to travel to Texas for her, and no nonprofits had the money to fund the travel themselves.

Luckily, Daniela found Tahirih.

Tahirih’s Washington, DC area attorneys worked with Daniela close to her home, while her pro bono attorneys at Mayer Brown LLP in Houston prepared her filing. When Daniela flew to Texas, she used air miles donated by generous Tahirih supporters in Houston. Daniela and her team of pro bono attorneys at Mayer Brown and Tahirih staff drove to the courthouse in San Antonio where Daniela again took the stand to testify about the decades of abuse that she endured.

Thanks to Daniela’s team of attorneys, after seven years of waiting in fear, she was finally granted asylum. Daniela can now move on with her life, knowing she is secure in the United States.

Names may have been changed to protect client privacy and safety. Photo may not depict actual client.

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