Cases & Deals

Ethiopian family fleeing political persecution obtains asylum

Clients Client D

Jones Day successfully obtained asylum on behalf of client D and his family, who fled Ethiopia due to prolonged, egregious, and on several occasions, violent persecution by the government on account of their political beliefs. Jones Day began representing D and his family in 2017 through a referral from the National Immigrant Justice Center ("NIJC").

Due in part to constantly shifting United States Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") priorities regarding scheduling asylum interviews, D and his family had still not received an interview date by mid-2019. Changing country conditions in Ethiopia around that time led to Jones Day's retaining an expert witness. Jones Day worked closely with the country conditions expert, who drafted an affidavit stating that any perceived improvements in the country's conditions did not actually improve the outlook for D and his family, and, in many ways, made Ethiopia a more dangerous place for them.

In early 2020, after D's family's application had been pending for almost three years, Jones Day considered strategies for expediting D's asylum interview. After consulting with NIJC, Jones Day requested that D's application be placed on the Chicago Asylum Office's "short list," in the hopes of obtaining an earlier interview date.

As the COVID-19 pandemic hit Chicago in March of 2020, Jones Day continued to work with D's family to finalize affidavits, draft supplemental briefing, and prepare for their eventual interview.

Finally, in June 2020, the Chicago Asylum Office reached out to Jones Day to offer D an interview date with six days' notice. Jones Day and D's family worked quickly to finalize all filing materials and to prepare for the in-person interview.

On June 16, Jones Day accompanied D and his family to the Chicago Asylum Office, where various COVID-19 measures impacted the interview. For example, everyone was required to wear protective masks, and the asylum officer interviewed D via video conference while sitting in a nearby room, but was not present in the actual interview room. This led to some technological and translation issues, but D was nonetheless able to fully explain his story and his reasons for seeking asylum. On August 11, D received notice that he and his family had been granted asylum.