At A Glance

We convinced the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to grant asylum to a Nigerian family (including their soon-to-be-chess-prodigy son) that had escaped Boko Haram.
Tani in front of fountain

Tani Adewumi discovered a passion for chess under difficult circumstances

  • The Situation

    After being targeted for their Christian faith by suspected members of Boko Haram—a Nigeria-based militant group that has killed more than 36,000 people and displaced 3 million—Tani Adewumi and his family fled the west African country, seeking asylum in New York City.
  • The Surprise

    Tani has a gift for chess.

    While living in a shelter, eight-year-old Tani discovered chess through a club at school. Within a year, he had not only learned how to play but won the New York State Scholastic Championships.

  • The Uncertainty

    But for how long could Tani perfect his chess moves from the safety of the States? With asylum not guaranteed, the Adewumi family faced deportation and could not travel internationally for chess tournaments.

    As they waited to hear their fate, his parents cleaned buildings, washed dishes and drove for a ride-share service, and Tani worked on his game.

  • The Outcome

    A team of Mayer Brown litigators convinced DHS to grant the family's request to not pursue the deportation and to stipulate that the Adewumis are entitled to asylum. The immigration judge entered final orders of asylum.
  • The Next Move is Tani's

    Now 13, Tani has won multiple championships and achieved the rank of FIDE Master and has his sights set on becoming a "grandmaster"—the highest title in the game.

    Becoming and maintaining grandmaster status requires playing in person in tournaments worldwide. With asylum secured, Tani can move freely around the international chess community’s board.

Tani and Father

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