A Guinean woman represented by the Federal Litigation and Appeals Clinic was granted asylum in Immigration Court on Jan. 28.
Kadiatou Diallo, who had been subjected to female genital mutilation, gained asylum through the efforts of 3Ls Jordan Laporta and Aron Minkoff, who were supervised by attorney Katelyn Hufe, '11, who co-directs the clinic with Professor Richard Frankel.
The students drafted Diallo’s affidavit and affidavits from her husband and friends as well as supporting evidence about the conditions in Guinea, where 98 percent of women are subjected to female genital mutilation by age 30.
If forced to return to Guinea, Minkoff said, Diallo potentially could have faced additional mutilation.
Diallo, who has a 4-year-old daughter and is pregnant with another daughter, voiced gratitude and appreciation for the clinic’s efforts.
“I’m glad my daughters don’t have to pass through what I went through,” she said, adding that her husband will now also be able to gain asylum. “This is wonderful news and a new life for me and my family.”
Diallo had been seeking asylum since 2015, about a year after she arrived in the U.S. She had paid thousands of dollars to translators and advocates who had promised to help with her application, which was rejected.
Finally, the search for legal representation led her to Frankel and the clinic in 2018. Diallo admits that she initially felt uncertain about allowing students to represent her, given the stakes in her case. But her husband was impressed by Frankel’s resumé, and her own meeting with the clinic director allayed her concerns.
The students proved to be dogged advocates, Diallo said, recounting the numerous times they spoke in person or via Facetime, when needed.
“They were very active,” she said.
The hearing, it turns out, was scheduled to occur in the midst of the federal government shutdown, which threw uncertainty into the process, Minkoff recalled. The students and Diallo rehearsed the hearing the weekend before, not knowing if it would proceed, even though President Trump had announced that the shutdown would end. The advocates and their client arrived at the courthouse without knowing if the hearing would be held and only learned that it would move forward 45 minutes after its scheduled start time.
For Diallo, the hearing marked a stark reversal, because a team of determined advocates surrounded her.
“I had all these people behind me,” she said, identifying several friends who had helped her find her way to the clinic. “And I had Aron and I had Jordan and I had Mr. Frankel. I was blessed.”