IMPACT HIGHLIGHTS - Providing justice to immigrants seeking asylum

For almost 10 years, the McDowell Foundation has been providing grants to nonprofit organizations nationwide engaged in litigation efforts to create social justice for disadvantaged persons and groups in the United States.

We are thankful to our grantees for helping us fulfill our mission, especially in today’s political, economic and social climate, in which the need for this work is significant and growing.

We are excited to share the next installment of our “Impact Highlights” series, where we feature the litigation success of one our 2016 Grantees, the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies (CGRS). 

CGRS protects the fundamental human rights of refugee women, children, LGBT individuals, and others who flee persecution in their home countries through legal expertise and training, impact litigation, policy development, research, and in-country fact-finding.

Through the support of a $16,000 grant from the McDowell Foundation, CGRS co-counseled the asylum case of a young Guatemalan domestic violence survivor seeking protection before the Eloy Immigration Court in Arizona. 

This case was litigated as a part of a broader strategy to transform the culture of immigration courts in jurisdictions particularly hostile to asylum seekers; immigration judges in Eloy deny asylum in a staggering 94.9 percent of cases, far out of sync with the national average.

CGRS reports that, in February 2017, they won their case and their client was granted asylum. She was reunited with her son and has started a new life in the United States!

Furthering the impact of its litigation, CGRS developed extensive supporting materials in the process of preparing the victim’s case, including model court submissions and country conditions evidence to corroborate Guatemalan asylum claims, which have been disseminated nationwide to thousands of attorneys representing domestic violence survivors.

In the photo, left, CGRS’s client stands outside the Eloy immigration detention center, where she was held for over a year, beside Linda B. Green, one of the expert witnesses CGRS retained to testify in support of her asylum claim.

“The grant from the McDowell Foundation was critical to our ability to win protection for our client in this incredibly challenging jurisdiction,” said CGRS Co-Legal Director Blaine Bookey. “We are thrilled that she and her son are now living together in safety and that attorneys around the country are benefitting from the vital resources developed in the process of litigating her case.”

We are thankful for the efforts of CGRS in successfully litigating this case.

Please stay tuned for more installments of our Impact Highlights. In the meantime, Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Written by Aaron Stiner, Executive Administrator, McDowell Foundation, February 6, 2019