Immigration Equality Announces Record Number of Asylum Victories

Organization, and Pro Bono Partners, Secure Safe Haven for 101 Clients

Immigration Equality, a national organization that helps obtain asylum for individuals persecuted in their home country based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV-status, announced today that its legal and pro bono teams won a record 101 cases in 2010.  An overwhelming number of those wins – 38 – were for clients from the Caribbean, with 28 of those for individuals from Jamaica.  Other cases included 24 asylum seekers from Central and South America; 16 from Eastern Europe (including seven Russian clients); nine from the African continent and five from the Middle East.

Immigration Equality maintains the largest pro bono network of attorneys – in addition to its in-house legal staff – dedicated solely to securing asylum for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender asylum seekers.  Firms providing pro bono representation for Immigration Equality clients include Dewey & LeBoeuf; Jones Day; Kirkland and Ellis; Latham Watkins; Ropes and Gray; Skadden; Weill  Gotshal; and White & Case. In addition to the 2010 wins announced today, the organization has 97 additional cases, filed in 2010, which are awaiting a ruling, as well as several cases filed prior to 2010.

“For too many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, the world remains a dangerous place,” said Rachel B. Tiven, the group’s executive director.  “In many cases, the clients who turn to Immigration Equality for help are literally running for their lives.  They have been mistreated and beaten by authorities in their home country, disowned by their families and ostracized by society.  By offering them safe haven, the United States is not only saving their lives, but benefitting from the talent, skills and service these asylees bring to our country.  We are proud, and honored, to help them begin life anew here in their adopted homeland.”

Since the mid-1990s, the United States has recognized persecution due to sexual orientation and gender identity as a basis for seeking asylum.  In the past five years, Immigration Equality and its partner law firms have represented more than 500 LGBT people fleeing persecution abroad.  Clients have hailed from some of the most notoriously homophobic countries in the world, including Uganda, Syria, Egypt and elsewhere.

“Every day, we hear from vulnerable LGBT people who desperately need legal help and have nowhere else to turn,” said Victoria Neilson, Immigration Equality’s legal director.  “Our in-house legal staff maintains an average open case load of more than 100 cases at any given time.  It is our generous network of pro bono firms, which donate so much time and energy to our clients, that make the breadth of our work possible.  With their help, we are able to tackle some of the most complicated, heart-wrenching cases and ensure that we help as many people as possible.”

For more information on asylum for LGBT people, or to join Immigration Equality’s pro bono network of attorneys, visit

Immigration Equality 2010 Asylum Wins by Country *
El Salvador–3
* Countries from which Immigration Equality had 2 or fewer wins are not listed.

Total 2010 wins include six individuals who won withholding of removal or secured relief under the Convention Against Torture Treaty (CAT).

Immigration Equality is a national organization that works to end discrimination in U.S. immigration law, to reduce the negative impact of that law on the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and HIV-positive people, and to help obtain asylum for those persecuted in their home country based on their sexual orientation, transgender identity or HIV-status. Through education, outreach, advocacy, and the maintenance of a nationwide network of resources, we provide information and support to advocates, attorneys, politicians and those who are threatened by persecution or the discriminatory impact of the law.


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