Many of the 2011-2012 clinic cases took longer than anticipated. Despite this, BLS clinic students remained committed and involved with their cases throughout. Happily, two recent cases resulted in a grant of asylum. Additionally, the Safe Harbor Project had the privilege of the participation of two “guest” faculty supervisors. In fall 2011, Professor Mark Noferi, an instructor of legal writing whose teaching and scholarship interests are in the immigration field supervised a case and in Spring 2012 BLS and Safe Harbor Project alum, Lauren Kosseff ’06, supervised two teams of students.
Ari Rosmarin ’13, Laura Gretz ’12, and Brigitte Hamadey ’12, supervised by Professor Dan Smulian, worked on behalf of a client who was just granted asylum in immigration court. Their client was from a persecuted ethnic group in a French speaking African country who, by virtue of membership in an ethnically based student organization, was accused of having ties to rebels. His family was brutally attacked and some of them imprisoned, but he was able to flee the country after a long time in hiding. It was a long, hard-fought win, as asylum was not granted by the asylum office in February as the students had hoped. Instead, it took until July, when Rosmarin was working and Gretz and Hamadey were preparing for the bar exam, for the case to finally be over. Rosmarin took time from his summer job to prepare their client for his testimony and then conducted the direct examination. Gretz and Hamadey came to court to lend their support. The case was won on the strength of the copious evidence collected, the preparation of our client, and Rosmarin’s ability to think on his feet in court. Their client is now seeking to continue his studies in computer science.
Another long-postponed case, started in Fall 2011 and only concluded in mid-August 2012. Students William Hine-Ramsberger ’12, Kevin Burke ’12, and Victor Suh ’13, supervised in the fall by Professor Mark Noferi, took on the case of a young Persian Gulf democracy activist and blogger who, after the Arab Spring uprisings and brutal crackdowns, was prominently featured advocating for American-style democracy in several television interviews, conferences, and speeches broadcast over the Internet, and was photographed multiple times by government officials surveilling his protest activities outside consulates in the US. The case involved novel social media issues, as Persian Gulf countries track outlets such as Twitter and Facebook with sophisticated technology; and novel legal issues raised by cooperation between various Persian Gulf countries. The team worked with the client over several months to collect an impressive amount of documentary evidence, including affidavits from prominent activists and journalists, photographs, webcasts, blog and Twitter posts, and human rights reports; presented a well-argued brief to the asylum office; and in multiple sessions, prepared the client to passionately present his views at his asylum interview. Although the local asylum office initially postponed the decision, it was finally issued six months after the interview after advocacy by Professor Dan Smulian and a local Congressional office. Asylum was granted. Their client now plans to continue working as an activist on behalf of democracy. In an email to the Safe Harbor Project students, he wrote, “Thank you so very much, I feel much obliged and lucky to have had what I'm sure was the best BLS asylum team ever work on my case!”