On June 11, 2013, the Baltimore Immigration Court approved our client’s asylum application after a multi-part hearing. Government attorneys argued that our client had “firmly resettled” in Mexico prior to applying for asylum in the United States. Specifically, they alleged that the Mexican government had provided our client a path to permanent residency after it brought him there after the 2010 Haitian earthquake and provided him with a temporary visa. When the immigration judge accepted our request to brief the issue of firm resettlement, we enlisted the support of experts in the field, Professor Bobby Vaughn, a specialist in Mexican race relations and East Bay Sanctuary Refugee Rights Program Director Michael Smith, who is cited extensively by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Camposeco-Montejo v. Ashcroft, 384 F.3d 814 (9th Cir. 2004), the leading US case which interprets Mexican immigration law. Our documentary evidence, along with letters from Professor Vaughn and Mr. Smith, persuaded the Court that the government’s evidence was “insufficient” to meet its burden and that the Mexican government’s temporary visa failed to provide a path to permanent residence. We also demonstrated that racial discrimination against individuals of African descent was so deeply entrenched in Mexico that our client would likely remain a second class citizen, unable to integrate into the larger society and thus subject to “substantial and conscious” restrictions by the Mexican government.
As advocates for our clients, we must often look beyond the sources we can find through our legal and documentary research, to enlist the assistance of scholars and on-the-ground activists who are willing to lend their expertise to help our clients through their expert opinions. We need, in turn, to work closely with them so that they understand specifically how they can assist our clients by providing the most thorough, detailed and authoritative opinions possible.