The Asylum and Refugee Law Clinic’s three most recent cases have both challenged and strengthened the program. Each case involves clients that fled their home country to escape death threats received after converting to the Christian faith.
Case one involves an Egyptian national who was born to one of the most prominent Baptist families in her home country. The case was first introduced to the Immigration Court in Miami, Florida, where the client currently lives. According to Bruce Einhorn, director of the Asylum and Refugee Law Clinic, the case was initially misrepresented, and the client was ordered to return to her home country.
“For years her family has suffered through physical abuse and threats by militant Muslims,” Einhorn said. “If they sent her back, she’d be returning with a bull’s-eye on her.” Einhorn continued, noting what has become known as the Arab Spring.
“The so-called Arab Spring has allowed for well-organized, fundamentalist Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafi movement to go public with their intolerant positions on religious minorities, especially Christians, women’s rights, and Israel,” Einhorn said. “These Islamist groups have become both popular and powerful, especially in Egypt, and their prominence has paralleled increasing acts of violence, intimidation, and other forms of persecution against Christians and others who assert Western-oriented philosophies and life choices.”
Einhorn and his team of law students and attorney-supervisors took on the case in March, and successfully approached the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals with a request to allow their client to remain in the United States while the case is heard later this year.
The second case involves a Chinese national living in Los Angeles. The client was arrested and beaten in his home country for his religious practices. He fled to the United States out of fear for his life.
“He was being faced with having to choose between his religion and his safety, and that is not a viable choice in my opinion,” Einhorn said.
The third case involves and Iranian national born into a Muslim family. The client converted to Christianity after he fled to the United States.
“He found and embraced Protestant Christianity here in the United States where he sought asylum with the assistance of our clinic students,” Einhorn said. “He argued in his court case that under current Iranian law he would be subject to arrest, physical mistreatment, and even death at the hands of the Iranian regime for his so-called crime of apostasy—the voluntary conversion from Islam to another faith. He courageously stood his ground in Immigration Court in Los Angeles, and was granted asylum by the Immigration Judge without government appeal.”
Einhorn attributes the successes celebrated by the clinic to the students and attorney-supervisors, who work tirelessly each week to collaborate on each case and attend hearings. He says the dedication of each individual working on the case stems from a deep desire to promote the rule of law.
“We are in the business of saving lives,” he said. “Many times I have listened to the heart-tugging claims of clinic liens and the sympathy and hard work accorded them by our clinic students and thought to myself, “There but for the grace of God could our roles be reversed—that for accident of birth, we of the clinic could be the asylum seekers fleeing countries that do not tolerate our Judeo-Christian faith traditions, and the clients could be our advocates, born into this wonderful, democratic land. The students and I are very cognizant of the divine blessing we possess of being native-born or naturalized American citizens. It is our proud mission to try to extend that blessing of liberty to our persecuted clients.”