​​Client Stories: Successful Asylum & Petitions Granted

May 2018

Marcelo’s Asylum: Granted

Marcelo*, a 19-year-old from Honduras, fled to the U.S. after facing threats from MS-13 and Barrio 18, domestic violence and sexual abuse from his stepfather. He traveled by foot, hitch hiked, took several buses, and rode on the train also known as “La Bestia”. Although he met some people along the way, he mostly traveled alone, relying on the generosity of others for food and water.

Once Marcelo reached San Diego, his case was taken by Casa Cornelia’s Children Program in 2017. The team, formed by three Volunteer Attorneys, took the case and determined that Marcelo was eligible for Asylum and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.

Finally, in April of 2018, Asylum was successfully granted to Marcelo. None of this would have been possible without Nathan Kiyam, Esq.,  Jennifer Cumming, Esq., and Brooke Killian Piper, Esq. from DLA Piper who donated their skills, time and energy to provide Marcelo with such a fortunate outcome. Thank you so much for your support!

Fabricio’s Fight: Setting a Precedent to Consider All Factors, Including Mental Health Conditions, When Petitioning for Withholding of Removal After a ‘Particularly Serious Crime’

In a recent major announcement, the Ninth Circuit Court granted Fabricio*, a former client of Casa Cornelia and current client of ACLU, a petition requesting that the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) must take all reliable, relevant information into consideration when making a determination for deportation, including the defendant’s mental health at the time of a particularly serious crime.

This is a massive win for anyone who has been affected by the BIA and the Immigration Judge’s statement that an applicant’s “mental health as a factor in a criminal act falls within the province of the criminal courts and is not a factor to be considered in a particularly serious crime analysis.” This ruling also signifies a forward step in combating discrimination against individuals with mental disabilities and violations of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Congratulations to Fabricio and Bardis Vakili, Esq. from ACLU San Diego and Imperial Counties!

Learn more about Fabricio’s story

Fabricio* is a native and citizen of Mexico who was living in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident since childhood. As a teenager, he developed symptoms of a serious mental disability and was later diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, for which he began receiving treatment, and has continued to do so for the vast majority of his life.

In 2004, Fabricio had a psychotic episode, during which he swung a weightlifting bell at a storeowner, causing a small laceration that required two stitches. Convicted of this ‘particularly serious crime’, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) took Fabricio into custody with the intent of deporting him. Years later, After Fabricio was detained, hospitalized, and eventually cared for by his mother, Casa Cornelia began providing Fabricio with legal counsel and took on his case. Eventually, Fabricio petitioned the BIA to recognize mental illness as a factor for his petition of withholding removal after committing a serious crime, arguing that all matters should be taken in consideration when assessing the dangerousness of an individual.Finally, after years of trying, the petition was granted last month. Fabricio successfully argued that the Agency must evaluate particularly serious crimes on a case-by-case approach and take all reliable, relevant information into consideration when making its determination, including the defendant’s mental health at the time of the crime.

*Name and identifying details changed to protect client confidentiality. 

Back to Featured News

Back to Spring Newsletter