Cases & Deals

Tibetan refugee wins asylum

Clients Client X

Our client, a Tibetan Buddhist, was arrested, beaten, and detained for two days in a tiny cell with little food or water because the client distributed leaflets supporting the Dalai Lama and Tibetan sovereignty at a religious celebration at a monastery near the client's home. Following the client's arrest, Chinese authorities made it clear on several unannounced visits that the client could no longer move about freely, visit the monastery, travel to obtain medical attention, express support for Tibet and the Dalai Lama, or even discuss views with friends and neighbors. No longer able to live freely, our client left home and family, and made an arduous trek through Tibet to Nepal, and ultimately traveled to the United States.

Our client applied for asylum in the United States, and was placed in deportation proceedings, thereby requiring a hearing on the client's eligibility for asylum. Through the National Immigrant Justice Center, the client was referred to Jones Day. A team of Chicago attorneys spent close to a year carefully eliciting all of the pertinent facts from the client to prepare for the hearing with the help of a translator. The team also identified an expert who could provide supporting testimony regarding the situation for Tibetans in China.

The team presented their case to Immigration Judge Robert Vinikoor in April 2010. Judge Vinikoor focused on the client's credibility, which had been cited as the reason for the client's referral to deportation proceedings, but our well-prepared client was able to respond to the judge's cross-examination deftly and completely. Bolstering the client's case was the testimony of an expert, whose excellent credentials went unchallenged by the government. After a 90-minute case-in-chief, Judge Vinikoor stated that he was convinced both that the client had been persecuted in Tibet, and that the client would face persecution were the client to return. He offered the government attorney an opportunity to rebut the presumption of persecution by cross-examining our client, but the government attorney politely declined, stating that he, too, found our client deserving, and would in fact waive appeal of the Judge's decision. It was an uplifting result for all involved.

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