For immigrants facing the threat of deportation or pursuing lawful status and citizenship, quality counsel changes everything. IJC Fellows win over 90% of the immigration cases they take on, but the case resolution is only a small part of the relationship between Fellow and client. Fellows support clients for years, helping them navigate the immigration system, sickness, and other obstacles.
In this series – How Fellows make a difference — three Fellows share their experiences helping clients through challenging periods, remaining steadfast in their advocacy and support, and demonstrating the impact of quality representation.
Meet Andréa Nunes, a Second-Year Justice Fellow helping clients apply for asylum and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status relief with Lutheran Social Services in New York City. Andréa reflects on her experience representing Mr. A, a client who fell ill soon after she began representing him.
When I started as a Fellow, I was assigned to work with Mr. A. I worked with him for about three months, and he expressed to me how happy he was with the hard work he knew I was giving his case. It made me really happy to know that doing my job as a Fellow was bringing joy to my client.
A few weeks prior to Mr. A’s hearing, he became extremely ill. I needed to submit an emergency motion for a continuance, but due to Mr. A’s illness, he was unable to consent to the hospital releasing information. Luckily, because I visited Mr. A and saw firsthand how he was doing, I was able to write an attorney affirmation, and my motion for an emergency continuance was granted almost immediately.
Thankfully, Mr. A survived his very serious illness, but his doctors had made it clear to me that he had a better chance of recovering if he was in the care of loved ones. I was even more motivated to get him a grant of asylum as soon as possible and submitted an asylum filing nearly 600 pages long.
Mr. A was officially granted asylum the day before my 30th birthday, which felt like the best gift ever. When I visited Mr. A and told him that he finally won asylum (after almost 10 years) he was overjoyed.
Because of Mr. A’s illness, he does not fully understand who I am, however he tells me that he knows I care very much about him and that he trusts me. Although it has been devastating to witness my client’s cognitive decline, I feel so happy that I was the person assigned to represent him. Mr. A’s family abroad has encouraged me to do as much as I can to advocate for his health and recovery so with their permission, I have also been advocating for cognitive rehabilitation services for him.
I am very excited to continue representing Mr. A and to see his dream of being reunited with his family after almost 10 years apart come true.
Support IJC today with a donation! Each dollar helps us strengthen the immigration legal field with better practices and talented new lawyers and advocates ready to become the next generation of leaders.