Congolese Man Persecuted for an Imputed Political Opinion Needs Representation at His Asylum Trial

Romelu* is a 36-year-old man who came to the United States from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in June 2019. Back in the DCR, Romelu was the target of police violence following a mass prison escape of political opposition members. Romelu was not in prison and was not a part of the breakout but police patrolling the area assumed that he was, detained him, beat him, and threatened to kill him if he should ever be captured again. Romelu is eligible for asylum and withholding of removal based on an imputed political opinion, as well as protection under the Convention Against Torture. His trial is scheduled for December 3, but a pro bono attorney likely will be able to obtain a continuance.    


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Romelu is a 36-year-old man from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He entered the United States for the first time in June 2019. Back in the DRC, Romelu was the target of police violence following a mass prison escape of political opposition members in 2017. In the weeks following the prison break, police patrolled the surrounding area. They stopped Romelu one day as he was walking home and began questioning him about the breakout. The police detained Romelu held him in custody for about two weeks. Throughout his detention, police officers beat him and yelled at him. Ultimately, a chief officer questioned Romelu and released him but threatened that if he ever was arrested again and confirmed to be a poticial opposition member, the chief would kill him. After his release, Romelu fled to Angola, where he lived for 2 years without documentation. In early 2019, though, the Angolan government issued a statement instructing all individuals living in Angola illegally to leave within 3 months or be forcibly removed to their home country due to recent elections, so Romelu fled to the United States.


Although an Immigration Judge granted Romelu bond, he is unable to pay the $5000 bond and is remains detained in Snow Hill, Maryland. Romelu's native language is Lingala, and he also speaks French fluently.


Please contact our Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney, Jennifer Grishkin at, if you are interested in taking this case.


*Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy.