Morgan Lewis Helps “Lost Boy” to Remain in the United States

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Between 1983 and 2005, more than 27,000 boys were displaced by civil war in southern Sudan. Most of the boys were orphaned or permanently separated from their families when government troops systematically attacked their villages, massacring over 2 million civilians during the decades long conflict. Many of the boys were away from the villages tending to their family's cattle herds when the soldiers attacked. Journeying alone or in small groups, the boys walked hundreds of miles across hostile territory to refugee camps in Ethiopia and finally Kenya. In 2001, 3800 of the boys, many now verging on young adulthood, were granted refugee status in the United States. Given the moniker "Lost Boys" by the agencies that assisted them, many are doing well in their new lives despite the numerous challenges they have faced. However, there are others who have struggled with mental health issues related to the trauma they suffered as children. In some cases, these untreated emotional problems have lead to problems with the law.

CAIR Coalition first met GA, one of these "Lost Boys" when he was detained at Piedmont Regional Jail in 2008 after being convicted of several minor crimes. He had fled Sudan in 1987 at the age of 10 after his mother was killed by government soldiers. Eluding wild animals, starvation and disease, he walked across Ethiopia to reach a refugee camp in Kenya where he spent the next 14 years before being resettled in the United States. Now GA was terrified at the thought of being forced to return to Sudan where he feared being killed.

Fortunately, GA was eligible to adjust his status to that of a legal permanent resident, although, because of his crimes, he needed a special waiver. CAIR Coalition placed his case with pro bono attorneys Michael Berenson, Andrew Sakallaris, Jared Minsk, and Merry Biggerstaff and paralegal Aaron Narva from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius who spent six months working on his case. Finally, in early 2009, Morgan Lewis was able to give their client the good news - his application for a waiver of the crimes was granted. He was once again a free man. After his release, Morgan Lewis attorney's continued to work with GA and various social services organizations to help him re-adjust to life after over one year of detention.

Now reunited with family and friends, GA wrote the team at Morgan Lewis and thanked them for everything they had done, saying "I am really appreciative of all the brothers and sisters who cared about me in my tough situation. I really bless you with all my heart, and please know that all of your good work was done for a purpose."

According to Andrews Sakallaris, the experience representing GA has also enriched the professional careers and personal lives of the attorneys who worked on his case and the team at Morgan Lewis would like to thank CAIR Coalition for the opportunity to work on behalf of GA and to assist a member of this underserved community.