MoFo Partners with Oasis Legal Services to Help LGBTQIA + Asylum Seekers Find Refuge (Video) – Immigration
As World Refugee Day approaches and the commemoration of Pride Month in the United States, it is important to recognize the growing number of asylum seekers from the global LGBTQIA + community. MoFo has a long history of advocating for LGBTQIA + immigrants and is always looking for ways to continue to expand this work. A new pro bono initiative, led by San Francisco associate Mark Foster, Palo Alto Mary Race associate, senior paralegal Gary Stenger, pro bono lawyer Dorothy Fernandez and Rachel Williams, set out to do just that. Through this initiative, MoFo is partnering with Oasis Legal Services and the in-house legal team of long-time customer VMware to increase the number of volunteer volunteers, providing much-needed support to this vulnerable immigrant community.
Oasis Legal Services is a non-profit organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area whose primary goal is to serve LGBTQIA + immigrants. Oasis services include initial examinations for immigration relief, filing affirmative asylum claims, and assisting with residency, citizenship and family applications. With only a handful of lawyers, Oasis has served individuals from over 35 countries around the world. And the need for help has never been more urgent than it is today.
While in recent years some countries have advanced the rights of LGBTQIA + people, much of the world has not. Many countries still criminalize same-sex relationships and gender non-conforming behavior. In fact, in some countries same-sex relationships can carry the death penalty. Even in countries without these punitive laws, some governments turn a blind eye to violence against the LGBTQIA + community and, in fact, are often involved in perpetrating violence against its members.
“The need to help LGBTQIA + people navigate the asylum process successfully is greater than ever, given the discouraging increase in violence and discrimination against the LGBTQIA + community in a number of countries. VMware. “For nearly three decades, many who have experienced such atrocities have viewed the United States as a land in which they can live openly and safely.
According to an NBC News report, citing data from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), nearly 4,400 people persecuted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity sought asylum in the United States between 2007 and 2017. With recent changes in US immigration law and a huge backlog in the immigration system, helping individuals navigate the asylum process is more important than ever.
“Our clients face unique barriers and systems of oppression due to their intersectional identity of being LGBTQIA + and undocumented immigrants. We have worked hard to create a holistic service model that supports our clients through the difficult asylum process and connects them to the emotional and legal support they need throughout their case, ”says l lead lawyer and pro bono coordinator of Oasis Kusia Hreshchyshyn. “Our goal at Oasis is to ensure that every eligible LGBTQIA + asylum seeker receives high quality and culturally competent legal representation and related support services.”
The basic human rights of these people are threatened. By obtaining legal status here in the United States, Oasis Legal Service clients are not only able to qualify for citizenship and find pathways to educational and professional opportunities, but they are also able to obtain the health care and support they need to be fully healed. And, most importantly, they can speak up without fear.
The project we launched with VMware in May is to help Oasis keep their collection of “country conditions” information up to date. LGBTQIA + people seeking asylum must provide evidence of conditions in their country of origin to support the claim that they have been persecuted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This includes proof that their government supports such persecution or will do nothing to stop it. The evidence must also be up to date. For example, when a person is questioned by immigration officials, they must be able to prove that the dangerous conditions still exist in their country of origin and that, therefore, they cannot return there.
Volunteers in the new MoFo-VMware initiative will research and collect reports from human rights organizations, the U.S. government, and reputable information sources, to create compilations of documents to be submitted in support of requests. ‘asylum. Submissions will highlight the most compelling facts and data for the asylum officer or immigration judge. The teams will carry out research not only in English, but also in the main languages of the countries. The work will sometimes involve going beyond a country’s reporting on its progress in protecting the LGBTQIA + community to checking out the day-to-day reality of its citizens.
MoFo and VMware kicked off the project by tackling research for five countries and hope to expand the work as this project gets underway. Oasis plans to use this work for its own clients and share it with other organizations serving the LGBTQIA + community, hoping to have an impact far beyond the San Francisco Bay Area.
“I have had the privilege of representing LGBTQIA + immigrants who have experienced significant trauma and persecution in their home countries,” said Mark Foster in a recent Oasis announcement on the partnership. “I took great satisfaction in seeing how zealous and compassionate advocacy can transform lives, creating a space for healing, new opportunities and the security that comes with being granted asylum. I am excited to do more of this life-saving work with Oasis. ”
Watch the video below to learn more about how Oasis Legal Services is making a difference:
Due to the generality of this update, the information provided here may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.
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