AFRICAN TEENAGER WHO SPEAKS LINGALA, FRENCH, AND ENGLISH HAS AN UPCOMING ASYLUM INTERVIEW (Kofi)

Kofi* is a teenager from central Africa whose best language is Lingala, but he also speaks French and English. Kofi fears persecution if he returns to his country on account of his imputed political opinion and his membership in several particular social groups, including a family-based group as well as his status as a street child and a child lacking parental protection. Kofi was represented by counsel while he lived in another state, but the U.S. government recently transferred him to a program for refugee minors in Virginia; consequently, Kofi lost his legal representation and needs an attorney to represent him in an upcoming asylum interview at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Asylum Office and, if necessary, to help him fight his deportation in immigration court. 

AllCAIRCoalition matters placed with a pro bono team are robustly mentored by aCAIRCoalition attorney. Our mentoring program includes an opening meeting to discuss the scope and process of the matter, provision of samples, guidance on the law, review of draft filings, assistance with client contact, and guidance on preparation for interviews and hearings.

    

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Kofi* is a teenager from central Africa whose best language is Lingala, but he also speaks French and English. Until recently, Kofi lived at an Office of Refugee Resettlement facility in another state and had legal counsel there who assisted him in filing an asylum application. Kofi fears persecution if he returns to his country on account of his political opinion and his membership in several particular social groups, including a family-based group as well as his status as a street child, an orphan, and a child lacking parental protection.   

Unfortunately, Kofi lost his legal representation when the U.S. government moved him from another state to a program for refugee minors in Virginia. Kofi had been scheduled for an asylum interview this past spring. However, the Asylum Office agreed to reschedule his interview to allow him to obtain new counsel. Kofi's new interview date is September 28. This case presents a great opportunity to help a young person in need of representation in his asylum proceedings in a relatively short timeframe. It would be a great fit for an attorney who is experienced in interviewing witnesses and clients, as there are factual and legal issues to be developed. 

Children’s asylum cases flow first through a non-adversarial asylum interview at the Asylum Office. An attorney representing Kofi will develop the facts and legal theories in his case, file a submission with the Asylum Office before the interview, and represent him in the interview. If Kofi does not win asylum through the Asylum Office process, the attorney will then represent him at a trial (typically one-half day in length) in immigration court. 

Special considerations: Kofi has a relative in the United States who lived with Kofi in his home country and is willing to work with Kofi’s attorneys to support Kofi’s asylum application. This relative has shared new information about Kofi’s family, the threats that Kofi has received, and the persecution likely waiting for him if he were to return to his home country. The relative has other information of which Kofi is unaware, much of which has the potential to help Kofi's asylum case. 

  • Timeline: The Asylum Office has rescheduled Kofi's asylum interview to September 28, 2022, to permit him to find new legal representation. He does not have any hearings scheduled in immigration court. 
  • Location: Fairfax County, VA (not detained). Attorneys representing children at the USCIS agency or in immigration court can be barred in any state; VA bar admission is not required. 
  • Language: Lingala is Kofi's best language, and he has requested that his asylum interview be conducted in Lingala. Kofi also speaks French and English. Our staff has worked with Kofi in both French and English; they believe he will need a Lingala interpreter to discuss details and the timeline of his story. 

For more information about this case, please contact Jennifer Grishkin, Managing Attorney for Pro Bono Coordination, at jennifer@caircoalition.org

 

 *Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy