Jones Day wins asylum for transgender Guatemalan woman
A Jones Day Chicago asylum team of Andrew Madsen, Joanne Caceres, and Erica Jaffe recently obtained an asylum grant for our client V.P., a transgender Guatemalan woman who had been persecuted on account of her sexual orientation and gender identity. Throughout her entire life V.P. had been taunted, threatened, beaten, and abused in her home country as a result of having identified as female. That led her to leave Guatemala for the U.S. in 2001 (at age 23). Ten years later, V.P. was deported back to Guatemala, but conditions had not improved. Homophobia and transphobia remain deeply embedded within the Guatemalan social fabric. Despite suffering more abuse, the government and police refused to protect V.P. Knowing she could not live her live openly and safely in Guatemala, V.P. returned to the U.S. in 2012 and applied for asylum. Through the National Immigrant Justice Center, the client was referred to Jones Day.
V.P.'s previous removal order presented challenges for the Jones Day team, but through some legal twists and turns, Jones Day was able to get our client's case reopened. At V.P.'s merits hearing, under grilling from Immigration Judge Robert Vinikoor, the Jones Day team ably persuaded the judge to grant our client asylum, even in light of the potential one year filing bar raised by the client's previous removal order. Under substantial questioning from the judge, our well-prepared client testified credibly about the persecution she faced and the Guatemalan government's unwillingness to prosecute her attackers.
After our client's testimony, Judge Vinikoor stated that he was convinced that the client would face persecution were the client to return to Guatemala. He offered the government attorney an opportunity to rebut, but the government attorney politely declined. It was an uplifting result for all involved.