In March 2007, Fatouma and Mamadou Barry, political asylees from Guinea, fled their country and were forced to leave their three-month old son, Souleymane, behind. Three years later, thanks to the dedication of Isabel Gardocki, Class of 2011, the Barry family has finally been reunited.
After her first year of Law School, Gardocki began an internship at Lutheran Social Services of New York, an invaluable public service organization which, among other things, provides services for immigrants and refugees. She was asked to review some of the open immigration cases and discovered the Barrys’ plight. As she learned about the provision of asylum law that had forced the couple to leave their newborn son behind in Guinea, she was compelled to find a way to reunite the family.
“It was amazing to me that we could be a part of a legal system that would allow parents to be separated from their baby for so long. They slipped through a loophole in the system,” said Gardocki.
Under the supervision of Wanyong Austin, an on-staff attorney, Gardocki began researching the possibility of a humanitarian parole application for Souleymane. She came across a similar case involving Darfuri refugees handled by Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman. She emailed the firm, briefing them on the case and asking them to help. They agreed to take the case on pro bono.
The firm met with the Barrys that month, and with Gardocki’s help, submitted the application for humanitarian parole in February of 2010. In late September of 2010, Homeland Security approved an I-130 immigrant petition for Souleymane, and on October 7, 2010, Homeland Security granted the application for humanitarian parole.
In early November, Souleymane’s eldest brother, Amadou, flew to Dakar to bring him home. On Saturday, November 6, both arrived at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport for a tearful reunion between mother, father, and son. “I am in paradise,” said Mr. Barry.
“It was surreal, sitting there in the airport watching them reunite with their son, who they hadn’t seen in nearly four years,” said Gardocki. “It was great to see the case through to a happy conclusion. Finally, we had justice.”