Haynes and Boone Wins Asylum for Sudanese Mother and Children


DALLAS - A team of Haynes and Boone, LLP lawyers, working in conjunction with the Human Rights Initiative, recently obtained asylum for a mother and her four children facing imminent physical harm and persecution if forced to return to Sudan.

The mother applied for asylum in 2013 after her husband and family insisted she submit her daughters, one still a toddler, to genital mutilation. Eighty-eight percent of the women in Sudan have undergone the mutilation, and at the age of nine, the client had become one of these women herself. Under Sudanese law, the woman had no legal right to refuse subjecting her own children to the same torture. To speak out against female circumcision in Sudan invited beatings and possible death.

After two days of hearing and cross-examination, the immigration judge granted sanctuary for the family and complimented the Haynes and Boone team for the expert way the firm presented the case. The road to asylum was not easy. Few women already subjected to genital mutilation meet the standard for asylum, which requires proof of a reasonable expectation of continued persecution. However this woman had a unique story to tell, and her legal team along with a collection of volunteer experts, were poised to tell that story.

The Haynes and Boone team was led by Dallas Partner Debbie McComas, co-chair of the firm’s Public Service Committee, and included associates Michelle Jacobs, Katie Dolan-Galaviz, and Lisette Villarruel.

HRI Director Bill Holston said, “I don’t imagine the Haynes and Boone team truly realizes what a hard case this was. All asylum trials are hard, but the legal issues in this case were especially complex, and we knew that when we took it. We really appreciate Haynes and Boone for taking this case and the great result.”

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