Alston & Bird has been recognized by the Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc. (CLINIC) with its “2019 Pro Bono Award” in honor of the firm’s commitment to providing pro bono representation to immigrants in removal proceedings and for supporting CLINIC’s Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) Pro Bono Project.
During the last five years, Alston & Bird attorneys have represented more than 30 immigrants with appeals pending before the BIA, the most of any of the CLINIC’s other law firm partners. These cases have set precedents, reunited families, and saved lives.
In making the award, CLINIC highlighted Michael Ward, senior counsel in Alston & Bird’s Energy Group, and Cassie Johnson, associate in the firm’s Litigation & Trial Practice, among the BIA Project’s most reliable volunteers.
Ward was noted for representing a client who was HIV-positive and the father and sole caretaker of five children. An immigration judge found that the client’s deportation would not cause sufficient hardship to warrant a form of discretionary relief or “cancellation of removal,” a determination that Ward succeeded in getting reversed.
Johnson was recognized for her advocacy on behalf of an Eritrean man who spoke out against the conditions of mandatory military service in his country and who an immigration judge held was disproportionately punished due to his political views. However, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security disagreed and appealed the judge’s decision. Johnson navigated case law that is skeptical of asylum claims based on military conscription and successfully persuaded the immigration board to affirm the asylum grant.
Established in 1988 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to support a rapidly growing network of community-based immigration programs, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc. promotes the dignity and protects the rights of immigrants in partnership with a dedicated network of Catholic and community immigration legal programs.