Last month, the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) helped Emily prepare a motion to move her case from Atlanta immigration court to the court where she currently lives in Arlington, Virginia. Even though ASAP helped draft the motion, it was up to Emily to present it to the judge at her hearing.
Ariel Prado at Innovation Law Lab, a partner organization, happened to be in the courtroom during the hearing, and he wrote: “That was a nail-biter – it looked like [Emily] was too nervous to submit the motion for most of the hearing. She kept it on her lap rather than the table. After the [immigration judge] had set a merits hearing, [Emily] finally asked what she should do if she had moved and if she could submit paperwork to change her court to Virginia. It wasn’t clear that she had the motion with her though, and the Judge’s response was super discouraging. He told her that, since the merits hearing was set and coming up so quickly, he likely wouldn’t grant such a motion… He asked her if she had any more questions, a bit impatiently, and she paused before asking: can I give you my motion now?”
Emily presented her motion to the immigration judge. After reviewing the motion for several minutes, the immigration judge granted her motion! Prado shared afterward: “There aren’t many victories to celebrate with asylum in Atlanta. This was an awesome way to start my day and [Emily] was so deservedly proud of herself.”
Emily now has the opportunity to present her case closer to home rather than continuing to make the over 600-mile commute from Virginia to Atlanta in order to attend her hearings.
We are ecstatic for Emily, and stand with asylum-seeking families across the country fighting for their cases amidst a complex and difficult legal system.
Emily’s victory is the latest example of ASAP’s work to provide asylum seekers with rapid-response legal aid. ASAP helps families submit their asylum applications, move their cases, secure work authorization, find their records, and file notices of appeal, in addition to other services.
ASAP provides emergency legal aid to hundreds of asylum seekers a year, and we are poised to expand this model to assist thousands more in the coming years.