Sri Lankan family wins U.S. political asylum
Clients Sri Lankan applicants for U.S. (religious) asylum
Melissa Hirst of Jones Day Chicago won asylum for a Sri Lankan couple and their four children who were persecuted by a militant Sri Lankan group, the LTTE (also known as the "Tamil Tigers"), because they are Muslim. The Tamil Tigers are a guerilla group that are noted for their serious human rights abuses in pushing for a separate Tamil state. Our clients and their children suffered continual death threats, one of the children was accosted outside his school and threatened with death, and their family members were beaten by the Tamil Tigers. We originally took the case on to pursue a Seventh Circuit appeal after the clients earlier had been denied asylum, which we won with a precedent setting ruling. On remand, the Immigration Judge instructed us that our burden was to establish that the harm our clients had suffered rose to a level of "persecution" sufficient to warrant asylum. At the hearing, the immigration judge questioned Melissa at length, attempting to establish that the harm the clients suffered was not sufficiently serious to merit asylum. After about an hour of questioning and oral argument, and a very brief examination of our client, the family was granted asylum.