My client was prepared and confident walking into his asylum interview. As I accompanied him into the interview room. I watched, winced, and took copious notes of the questions the asylum officer asked him, but I didn’t have to worry, because my client did a wonderful job telling his story. He answered her questions honestly and sincerely. We had planned a quick debrief after the interview but by the time we finished, after four grueling hours at 6:15pm, we were too exhausted (and hungry) to do anything but head home. Overall, the interview went well, but I could see the physical toll on my typically jovial client.
This was not my first visit to the Arlington Asylum Office, but it was by far the longest time I had ever spent in a single interview. And my client speaks fluent English!
I initially took this case on as part of the Afghan Asylum Pro Se + Project through HIAS and the ABA Commission on Immigration. The Project connects Operation Allies Welcome parolees from Afghanistan who are seeking asylum to pro bono legal representation in a remote and limited scope engagement. The Project is designed to match volunteer attorneys with Afghan parolees for the purpose of preparing the asylum application, which includes completing the I-589, Application for Asylum, gathering the related evidence, drafting a cover letter and index of exhibits for the local asylum office, and preparing the applicant for the asylum interview. Then, the applicant goes to the interview on their own, unless the attorney decides to offer representation at the interview. I chose to take my client’s case on for full representation.