Sisi* is a 26-year-old English-speaking man from Ghana. His father died when he was a child, and Sisi stopped going to school and lived with an older family member who forced him to work. Desperate for a better life and just 17 years old at the time, Sisi went to the passport office to try to obtain a passport in hopes of leaving the country. There he met a man who offered to help him and arrange travel. This man and his accomplices used Sisi to smuggle drugs into the U.S., forcing him to swallow 86 pellets of heroin at gunpoint over the course of a day, before making him board a plane to the United States. Upon arrival, Sisi immediately explained everything to border agents and asked for help. He cooperated with the DEA, leading to the extradition and prosecution of his traffickers. After serving his own criminal sentence, Sisi in now back in ICE custody facing deportation. He seeks a pro bono attorney to help him apply for a T visa for victims of human trafficking.
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.
Sisi* is a 26-year-old English-speaking man from Ghana. His father died when he was 9 years old, and Sisi stopped going to school and lived with an older family member who forced him to work. Sisi was hired to clean and fix motorcycles at a market, but rarely saw any of the money he earned from customers because he was being exploited by his employer. One day, he decided to keep all of the money from a customer which infuriated his employers, who began hunting him down and threatening him. Sisi went into hiding and became desperate to find a way out of the country.
He decided to go to the passport office to obtain a Ghanaian passport in order to leave the country. There, Sisi met a man who offered to help him obtain a passport and arrange travel to the United States. A few days later, Sisi met the man and his accomplice, and they explained that he would use a fake passport and would have to pretend to be the son of one of the men. At this point, Sisi had already given the man all his money. As the process continued, the men told Sisi he needed to pay more money.
Eventually, the men told Sisi that they had found someone who would lend him money to travel if he paid back the money once he arrived in the United States. Sisi was only 17 at the time. In March 2012, the men called Sisi and told him that they were picking him up to go to the airport; instead they took him to a hotel room. There they took his phone and forced him at gunpoint to swallow a large number of heroin pellets. Sisi was begging the men to let him go, but they told him he would be killed if he tried to leave or say anything to authorities. It took Sisi an entire day to swallow all the pellets of heroin at gunpoint as he was vomiting and crying. The men forced Sisi to board a plane to the U.S carrying the heroin in his abdomen. One of the men traveled with Sisi to make sure he did not say anything.
When Sisi arrived at the airport in the U.S., border agents who were suspicious of his passport separated him from his trafficker and questioned him. Sisi confessed everything and asked for help. He was taken to a hospital to extract the pellets and was then placed in ORR custody. While Sisi was in ORR custody, DEA became involved in the case, and Sisi was prosecuted and sentenced to ten years for drug trafficking. He cooperated with DEA to identify the men who lent him money and forced him to bring drugs. Due to Sisi’s cooperation, all three men were extradited from Ghana and prosecuted in the U.S.
After serving his criminal sentence, Sisi is now back in ICE custody facing deportation.
Sisi needs an attorney to help him apply for a T-visa for victims of human trafficking. USCIS has recognized forced narco-trafficking as a valid claim for a T-visa. A pro bono attorney would help Sisi prepare his application and help him create a powerful statement on his victimization.
Special Considerations: Sisi previously sought relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). In June an immigration judge (IJ) rejected Sisi’s CAT claim. Sisi is appealing that decision but separately seeks a pro bono attorney to help him apply for a T-visa.
Timeline: Sisi currently has no hearings scheduled. He has an appeal pending at the Board of Immigration Appeals on the immigration court’s rejection of his claim for protection under the Convention Against Torture. Sisi’s T visa application will proceed at the same time as, and separate from, his CAT appeal.
Location: Detained in Caroline County, Virginia.
*Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy.