TEENAGER FROM THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO WHO SPEAKS LINGALA, FRENCH, AND ENGLISH HAS AN UPCOMING ASYLUM INTERVIEW (Kofi)

Kofi* is a teenager from the Democratic Republic of the Congo whose best language is Lingala, but he also speaks French and some English. Kofi fears persecution if he returns to the DRC 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. Kofi was represented by counsel while he lived in New York, 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. 

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.

    

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Kofi* is a teenager from the Democratic Republic of the Congo whose best language is Lingala, but he also speaks French and some English. Until recently, Kofi lived at an Office of Refugee Resettlement facility in New York and had legal counsel there who assisted him in filing an asylum application. That application asserted that Kofi fears persecution if he returns to the DRC 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 New York to a program for refugee minors in Virginia. Kofi had been scheduled for an asylum interview in May. However, the Asylum Office has agreed to reschedule his interview to allow him to obtain new counsel. Kofi's interview date is still TBD, and a pro bono team that takes his case soon can propose dates for the interview. 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. 

 

  • Timeline:  The Asylum Office is rescheduling Kofi's asylum interview 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 some English. 

 

For more information about this case, please contact Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney Jennifer Grishkin at jennifer@caircoalition.org or 202-866-9287.  

*Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy