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White & Case Helps Brutalized Crimean Medical Student Obtain Asylum in the United States

White & Case Helps Brutalized Crimean Medical Student Obtain Asylum in the United States

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Working pro bono, White & Case has successfully represented a Crimean applicant in his request for asylum in the United States.

According to White & Case, in 2012 the unnamed asylum-seeker — who the firm identifies only as "M.I." — was a medical student in Crimea when he was attacked and beaten unconscious by members of what the firm calls a "sophisticated anti-gay group," at least one of whom was wearing a police uniform, then received poor medical treatment for his "severe injuries" once doctors discovered he was HIV positive.

Several months after the initial attack, the firm reported, M.I. "was approached by men in police uniforms who demanded that he pay them money or they would hurt him again, and would tell his university that he was gay. M.I. paid large sums of money to his persecutors over several years. But the threats never stopped."

In 2014, having completed his medical coursework, M.I. fled Crimea, seeking refuge in the United States. 

According to White & Case, "through a referral from its longtime pro bono Partner Whitman-Walker Health ... David Courchaine and John Dalebroux, associates in White & Case's Washington, DC office, volunteered to represent M.I. pro bono before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) Asylum Office in Arlington, Virginia." In addition, the firm reports, "to help build M.I.'s case for asylum and prepare him for USCIS interviews, Courchaine and Dalebroux assembled an asylum team, which included Associates Sadie Pulliam, Claire Leonard, and Alexander Andresian from the Washington, DC office and Associate Vivake Prasad from White & Case's New York office."

Finally, after many years, the firm reports, "in July 2020, two years after M.I.'s second interview, USCIS granted his request for asylum in the United States."

"I am proud of the asylum team's tenacity and determination in this long and challenging representation," said Courchaine, who has previously helped to win asylum for four separate LGBT+ pro bono clients. 

According to White & Case, "now 35 and secure, M.I. plans to finish earning his M.D and to practice medicine in his new home country, free from fear of being forced to return to the threats and violence that had nearly ended his life."

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