Dominica* is a 38-year-old, Spanish-speaking woman from Honduras with two daughters (ages 8 and 14). She left Honduras with her children after receiving direct death threats from a gang. After fleeing, neighbors reported that the gang had burned down the corn field that Dominica and her daughters lived on and owned. Dominica currently resides in Maryland with her father and two daughters. Since her final order for removal was issued, Dominica’s father has been diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer’s, and she is his caregiver. Dominica needs an attorney to file a motion to reopen based on this material change in circumstances and her experience with a deceptive prior counsel who had her prepare her own case despite charging her thousands of dollars.
All CAIR Coalition matters placed with a pro bono team are robustly mentored by a CAIR Coalition 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.
Dominica* is a 38-year-old, Spanish-speaking woman from Honduras with two daughters (ages 8 and 14). Dominica fled to the United States with her daughters in 2018 after received death threats from the local gang in her home country. Knowing that the gangs mean what they say, Dominica recognized that it would be impossible to stay put or go to local authorities. In addition to the death threats, Dominica fell victim to extortion and destruction of property at the hands of the gang.
Upon arriving in the United States, Dominica retained counsel, who deceived her into paying him thousands of dollars while having her sign a statement requiring her to prepare her own case. Dominica’s counsel filed a substanceless asylum application which included no supporting evidence or legal argument. Her counsel previously was reprimanded in a separate case for failing to represent his client with reasonable diligence, and for failing to communicate with his client. CAIR Coalition currently has obtained the record of proceedings and has requested the audio recordings from her hearings as further evidence of her counsel’s deficient representation.
Dominica has a viable claim for a motion to reopen her proceedings based on ineffective assistance of counsel under Matter of Melgar, and Matter of Lozada.
Dominica currently serves as the primary caretaker for her father who was found mentally incompetent by the immigration court in 2019 after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Her father relies on her for his day-to-day living and transport. The court’s awareness of her role as a caretaker of a mentally incompetent client who remains in proceedings may be argued as a material change in circumstances.
In order for Dominica and her daughters to remain in the U.S, she needs a pro bono attorney to help her obtain a real chance to challenge her deportation by reopening her case on account of the change in her circumstances and the ineffective assistance of her prior counsel.
Dominica’s pro bono attorney(s) will need to file a motion to reopen, along with supporting affidavits or other evidence, at the immigration court. Because one of the reasons for reopening is ineffective assistance, Dominica's prior counsel will need to be informed of his ineffective assistance and the intention to bring an ineffective assistance claim, which Dominica is willing to pursue. Dominica’s daughters may be eligible for other forms of relief and pro bono attorney(s) representing Dominica will want to further explore this possibility.
- Timeline: Dominica does not have any hearings scheduled. In response to COVID-19, the courts currently permit attorneys to attend all hearings telephonically.
- Location: Eastern Shore, Maryland (not detained)
- Language: Spanish (will need Spanish-speaking team member or a translator)
For more information about this case, please contact Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney Jennifer Grishkin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-866-9287.
*Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy