2017 Pro Bono Stars: Houston
By Hardy Vieux
As part of the American Bar Association’s Celebrate Pro Bono Week, we are recognizing individuals with outstanding dedication to pro bono service as Pro Bono Stars. Today we highlight Sarah Grossnickle and Daniel Mayerfeld from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Jason Beesinger from Joyce + McFarland LLP (J+M).
Sarah Grossnickle, Jason Beesinger, and Daniel Mayerfeld represent two Syrian men who fled persecution. Abdul* fled Syria after a lifetime of persecution for his and his father’s political beliefs. After being detained, interrogated, and beaten by Syrian security forces multiple times, Abdul came to the United States hoping to win asylum and become a physician.
Omar* fled Syria to avoid forcible conscription in the Syrian army. He witnessed family members killed because they refused to commit crimes against humanity. After he was given one month to join the army voluntarily or be forced to, Omar came to the United States seeking asylum.
Sarah, Jason, and Daniel took both cases in 2015 and have worked diligently ever since to win asylum for their clients. In addition to the asylum cases, the team won Temporary Protected Status for Omar and submitted an application for Abdul. Even after Jason left Skadden for J+M, he continued as co-counsel on the cases. The team has been incredibly proactive, engaged with their clients, and enthusiastic in their pursuit of relief for Abdul and Omar.
Thanks to the team from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and J+M, Omar and Abdul have a chance to live peacefully in the United States without the fear of deportation to a country where they could be imprisoned, tortured, killed, or forced to commit heinous crimes.
Sarah also recently helped us lead and staff a pro se asylum workshop for adults with children, where volunteer attorneys helped families fill out their asylum applications.
Human Rights First is grateful for the work of dedicated pro bono teams like Sarah, Jason, and Daniel.
*Names changed to protect identity