Witnessing Justice: Transgender Woman Granted Asylum in Baltimore by FOBR Liz Keyes

Wonderful blog post featuring former Immigrant Justice Practitioner in Residence, Liz Keyes. Liz now directs the Immigrant Rights Clinic at the University of Baltimore School of Law. Kudos to Liz and her students!

Lifted Lamp

This is a guest post by FOBR Liz Keyes, who direct the Immigrant Rights Clinic at the University of Baltimore.

Today was a beautiful day in Baltimore immigration court. A young woman from Honduras, born male but always feeling female inside, won asylum after suffering relentless torment from her earliest days until she fled at age 17. Everyone she ever knew in Honduras treated her with cruelty, from the teachers who brutally punished her, to the classmates hurling slurs, to her father who beat her viciously, and her sister who attacked with her with a machete when she saw our client wearing girl’s clothes. The brutality escalated the older she got, and after being attacked with knives and a gun by homophobic gang members, she finally fled, deeply traumatized by her experience. She knew nothing of asylum in the United States, and did not apply within one year…

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International Human Rights Law Clinic Students Advocate for Refugees’ Access to Information

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International Human Rights Law Clinic students Christina Fetterhoff and Jennifer Ponard

The International Human Rights Law Clinic testified on refugee rights in the Americas before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights during its 149th period of sessions, held in Washington, DC, from October 24 – November 7, 2013. Clinic students Christina Fetterhoff and Jennifer Ponard prepared information on refugees’ access to information for the purposes of preparing a defense when asylum claims are denied. Co-petitioners for the hearing were Asylum Access Ecuador, the United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Sin Fronteras IAP, the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), the Consultancy on Human Rights and Displacement (CODHES), and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Representatives from these organizations similarly presented statistics on refugees and information on detention issues and requested that the Commission develop a regional standard for refugee status determination.

This hearing was the first in a series of three requested hearings to highlight refugee rights issues in the Americas, leading up to the thirtieth anniversary of the Cartagena Declaration on Refugees next year. Future hearings, if granted by the Commission, will focus on issues including unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable populations.