Winning at the 9th Circuit on Behalf of Immigrant Fighting Deportation
In August 2017 the 9th Circuit issued a memorandum order reversing a grant of summary judgment against our client, who is fighting deportation on the grounds that he holds derivative United States citizenship through his father, an American citizen. Our client, now 54, came to the U.S. with his father in 1968. The judges found that a genuine issue of material fact existed as to our client’s citizenship and remanded the case to the Southern District of California for a trial. The appeal was successfully argued by Seattle litigation associate Max Hensley, assisted by many others at DWT.
Amicus Briefs Challenging the Trump Administration's Travel Ban
DWT lawyers, including Peter Karanjia, Geoffrey Brounell, Jason Harrow, and Victor Kovner worked on multiple amicus briefs—including before the 9th and 4th Circuit Courts of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court—on behalf of 167 members of Congress in cases challenging President Trump’s “travel ban” on both constitutional and statutory grounds. The team worked with co-counsel at the Constitutional Accountability Center.
The DWT team of Rob Balin, Abigail Everdell, and Jaya Kasibhatla also filed an amicus brief on behalf of a large number of arts and culture organizations, led by the PEN American Center, supporting challenges to the travel ban. Said the brief: “Amici have a vital mission to foster rich intellectual and artistic discourse in this country, and that mission is directly impaired by [President Trump’s Executive Order].”
Assisting a Client Close to Home
Early in 2017, Biruk Birhanu, the attendant in the parking garage of our Washington, D.C., office building, reached out to DWT partner David Silverman looking for immigration assistance for his family. David volunteered, and by mid-March, a DWT team had filed applications for naturalization and for certificate of citizenship with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for Biruk’s wife and son, as well as fee-waiver requests and attorney appearances.
“As you might imagine, USCIS requires quite a bit of paperwork to go with these applications, each of which ended up being about 60 pages,” says David. “My assistant, Sharon Mathis, was a tremendous help in preparing those applications. Biruk is one of the nicest guys you could ever meet, and always has a smile on his face, despite the fact that his salary is below the poverty guidelines for a family of four.”
In September, USCIS conducted an interview with Biruk’s wife, Estegnet, that turned out successfully, and she is now a U.S. citizen. We are still waiting to hear the results for Biruk’s 7-year-old son, Yosef.
“It has been an honor to work on these applications, as U.S. citizenship will make a real difference in the lives of Biruk’s family,” says David.
Participating in Citizenship Clinics
Several DWT lawyers and staff participated in a citizenship workshop organized by the City of Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs to assist people with determining eligibility for and applying for citizenship. The all-day clinics took place at area community colleges.
Securing Visas for Artists in Groundbreaking Seattle Performance
In the spring of 2017, Seattle Repertory Theatre launched its most ambitious and expensive show ever, “Here Lies Love,” an immersive musical about former Filipino first lady Imelda Marcos, created by David Byrne and DJ Fatboy Slim. The theater faced a time crunch and needed to bring in international artists in time for rehearsals.
At the request of John Keegan, a trustee of the theater, DWT immigration practice chair Rich Rawson stepped in and obtained visa approvals for three key members of the artistic team, each residing on a different continent. And he did it in record time, taking less than 30 days for a process that can sometimes take months.
The artists arrived as needed, and the show opened April 19. “Here Lies Love” went on to become the best- selling production in the theater’s 54-year history.
Asylum Secured for Ethiopian Couple Who Protested Human Rights Abuses
DWT associate Robbie Miller helped secure asylum in 2017 for a married couple from Ethiopia who had been targeted for arrest and harassment in their home country.
The husband, a physician, had spoken out against human rights abuses that were being perpetrated through government-sponsored “research” (such as sterilization of disfavored populations) and, as a result, he was arrested and arbitrarily detained and beaten. In May 2014, he fled to Seattle, home to a large Ethiopian population, at which point Robbie began to represent him through a referral from the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.
The gentleman’s wife is also a physician and was harassed and surveilled after her husband left for the U.S. She was detained for weeks and beaten in late 2014, at which point she too decided to flee.
Years passed, and the couple moved to Atlanta, as DWT handled complex paperwork and waited for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to schedule an asylum interview. Finally, word came in March 2017 that an interview had been scheduled just a couple of weeks out. A fellow DWT associate helped conduct mock interviews and revise declarations that had initially been submitted. Robbie flew to Atlanta and spent the day before the interview preparing with the clients.
Each client was interviewed for close to two hours. Then several more months passed until the couple got the good news: Asylum had been granted and new work permits issued.
The couple sent a note to Robbie thanking him for his “wonderful support, guidance, and representation.” They added: “We will always remember what a difference you made in our life and we feel honored to be able to do same for someone else going forward. Thank you and your firm for such a generous gift of your time and expertise to us.”