Kazan Law Pro Bono Victory on Asylum Case
Thanks to Kazan Law’s pro bono efforts, a 23 year-old young man from El Salvador and his three year-old child were granted asylum by the US Department of Homeland Security Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services Asylum Office. This was the first immigration case for our pro bono practice. It was a challenge that took a lot of teamwork throughout Kazan Law’s staff but it was well worth it. We are still working on securing asylum for the young man’s wife. We hope to achieve this in the next few months and to also win the other pro bono immigration cases we have taken on.
This first pro bono case victory is a great accomplishment for our office. We are pleased that this family now can live here without the constant threat of death they faced in their home country.
Kazan Law Pro Bono Program Helps Anti-Gang Activist
This young man whom the Kazan Law pro bono practice helped is a preacher who preached non-violence and spoke out against gangs in his community. When he refused to acquiesce to the gangs’ demands that he traffic drugs for them and support their efforts, he and his wife were kidnapped and beaten by gang members and threatened with death. The couple fled to the United States with their child. They asked for asylum at the border and were released to family here in the Bay area. We are proud to be applying our firm’s legal skills to help this brave young family. We look forward to helping others.
How Kazan Law’s Pro Bono Practice Finds Immigration Cases
Kazan Law’s pro bono immigration cases were referred by to us Centro Legal de la Raza, located here in Oakland. This is an outstanding nonprofit organization that for over 40 years has provided legal aid to Latino, immigrant, and low-income communities of the Bay Area. They not only refer cases but also mentor pro bono volunteers like us. The Center for Gender and Refugee Studies also provided us with mentoring and advice. They gave us a wealth of background information we used to make the asylum office and court understand the conditions that force our clients to flee their countries and leave their families, friends and lives back home.
Kazan Law’s Pro Bono Practice – Why Immigration Cases?
Many of us here at Kazan Law come from progressive and humanitarian backgrounds and donate our time to many causes involving children and families in need. Some of the firm’s partners early in their careers worked with helping California migrant laborers. This led to our work with occupational safety and specifically asbestos. We work hard representing our clients in our asbestos practice. But we also take on cases pro bono where we think we can make a difference.
Starting the end of last year we heard about kids coming over the border needing representation, and decided to help. We agreed to take one of the cases of the unaccompanied minor children.
We felt the need was so great that we agreed to take not one, but four cases. These include a 14 year-old boy, a 12 year-old girl, a father and his 15 year-old daughter – all from Honduras, and the 23 year-old married couple and their three year-old baby from El Salvador. Once we saw the list of all the deserving kids and families and read about their stories and the horrible conditions where they lived, we could not stop at just one case.
Kazan Law’s Pro Bono Work Is a Team Effort
Kazan Law partner Denise Abrams headed up our pro bono immigration team. She was assisted by Frank Fernandez, a recently retired partner who represented the young preacher at his asylum hearing. Frank, who prior to joining Kazan Law was a lawyer for the United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO, and the California Department of Occupational Health & Safety (Cal-OSHA), worked together with Julianna Rivera, a former Kazan Law associate now has her own immigration law practice in Oakland. Dianna Lyons, who also started her legal career with Caesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers and recently retired as Kazan Law partner, and associate Ryan Harris were also part of the team. But they were assisted by many KL staffers including Stacy McKenna, Marcela Nava, and Jazmin Solorzano who helped by translating and staying in contact with the family, and Terry Roy who provided critical administrative support. We were advised by Ellen Widess, the former director of CalOsha who is currently volunteering to help with our pro bono immigration cases.
Kazan Law Pro Bono Work – Why We Do It
Kazan Law’s pro bono cases are a small but significant part of what we do. Our pro bono efforts are a natural outgrowth of the founding principles of our firm. We are first and foremost an asbestos law firm. We obtain justice for people who are sick with mesothelioma, a fatal cancer, from being exposed to asbestos. Often these people were exposed to asbestos through the negligence of manufacturers, distributors and installers. In many cases these are large companies who care more about profits than people’s lives. Our law practice makes us aware that there are many hard-working honest people who need good legal representation to help protect their rights. But many of them can’t afford it. That’s where pro bono work comes in.
With pro bono cases, we make the law and the justice system work for people who have nothing to give us but their gratitude. We empower them. We give them hope; we help them when they have nowhere else to turn. This makes us feel that our training, our experience, and our judgment can help make a difference in the world. It makes us feel that we are better people for doing pro bono work. And we are.
When you do pro bono, everybody wins. Our communities are served by the legal talent of its citizens. Our needy get the help that they require. And justice is served.