Refugee Voices – José From Colombia

Protecting the persecuted is a core American ideal. At Human Rights First, we help asylum seekers who fled persecution and violence navigate the complex U.S. legal system by matching them with high-quality pro bono attorneys. Explore José's inspiring journey from persecution to freedom.

Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP (Finnegan)

José is a human rights activist from Colombia. Before he was forced to flee his country, Jose was a life-long advocate for the rights of Afro-Colombians and for victims of forced displacement at the hands of the government and paramilitary forces. As part of his work, Jose led a significant Colombian NGO that advocated for the rights of these minority groups. Jose was finally forced into exile after he was marked for assassination by paramilitary forces and an attempt was made on his life. He left Colombia for the United States at that time, initially hoping to return, but as the campaign of assassination of Afro-Colombian activists continued, he realized that he could not return home. He and his family were able to escape and seek protection here in the United States.

“ONE OF MY COLLEAGUES HAD INFORMATION ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST. I TOLD THEM ABOUT MY SITUATION….AND WHEN ASYLUM WAS GRANTED, IT WAS BLISS FOR THE FAMILY.”
— JOSÉ

 

 

HUMAN RIGHTS IN COLOMBIA
Enslaved Africans were first brought by Spanish colonists to Colombia in the sixteenth century. These slaves replaced lost plantation and mine labor that occurred as a result of the decimation of the indigenous population. As a result, Colombia has the second largest population of people of African descent in Latin America.
Afro-Colombians have long suffered discrimination, displacement, and economic deprivation throughout the history of the Colombia, especially during the 50+ years of conflict between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia People’s Army (FARC).
Displacement of indigenous and Afro-Colombian people and attacks on those who try to protect them continues today. Through September of 2013, the Colombian government registered 4,048 Internally Displaced People (IDPs) who identified themselves as indigenous and 59,365 who identified themselves as Afro-Colombian.
LAWYERS MAKING A DIFFERENCE
“When asylum was granted, it was a special moment for us.”
— José

Human Rights First has been working with Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP since 1997, when we placed Ashraf Hamid (also featured in “Refugee Voices”) with attorney Allen Sokal. Since that time, Finnegan has taken many aslum cases with Human Rights First and successfully assisted clients from asylum representation through the U.S. citizenship process.

 

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Published on July 18, 2022

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