Ricardo Arias Successfully Obtains Asylum For Client in Pro-Bono Matter With Casa Cornelia
SCMV associate Ricardo Arias and law clerk Chris Angelich were successful in obtaining Asylum for a gentleman persecuted by the government of Russia. Mr. Arias was pro-bono co-counsel with Elena Gutierrez from the Casa Cornelia Law Center.
The asylum seeker was a twenty-two year old Russian male who joined the French Foreign Legion (“FFL”) as a way to meet new people and travel the world. The FFL does not require allegiance to France or renouncing your citizenship. By the sixth month in the FFL, and after becoming a member, the asylum seeker became home-sick and decided to return to Russia to live with his mom and grandmother. A former acquaintance of the asylum seeker, who knew he had left to become a member of the FFL, reported him to the local police as being a member of a foreign military force. This acquaintance, a former police officer, severely beat the asylum seeker, accusing him of being a traitor to the motherland and a known homosexual. The asylum seeker was interrogated by local police and told that the Russian Federal Security Service (“FSB”) would become involved in his case and he would be imprisoned for at least 15 years. A day before leaving Russia three plain clothes FSB agents came to his home, the asylum seeker had to hide pretending he wasn’t home. Three days after leaving Russia FSB agents showed up at his mother’s home with a paddy wagon seeking to arrest him. The SCMV team along with Casa Cornelia was able to obtain an affidavit from his family member to that effect.
The Immigration Judge found that the asylum seeker was persecuted because of an imputed political opinion against the current government of Russia and as a supporter of Western countries trying to overthrow the Russian government. The Judge also found that the totality of harm that the asylum seeker suffered while in Russia (the beating, interrogation, and various accusations of being a homosexual) amounted to past persecution, that conditions in his country remain unsafe, and since his persecutor is the government, he is afforded a presumption of future persecution. Current ultra-nationalist sentiment in Russia stirring up violent far-right groups make it impossible for the asylum seeker to safely return to Russia. The Judge granted the I-589, Application for Asylum.