11 September 2007
On June 27, 2007, Judge Jimmie L. Benton of the Houston Immigration Court granted asylum to our client, a Nigerian national who spent nearly nine months in a detention facility. The case was referred by the YMCA International, and was handled pro bono by Houston attorney Tristan Propst.
Our client, a self-identifying Christian evangelist, was the victim of multiple acts of domestic violence at the hands of her husband, a devout Muslim. The abuse escalated to attempts on her life that included stabbing and attempted poisoning, as well as threats of an imminent "acid bath." Domestic violence is rampant in Nigeria and although our client was persecuted by an individual rather than a government entity, the government's failure to protect its citizens from such acts served as the basis for Judge Benton's conclusion that Ms. Ugbaja had a well-founded fear of future persecution on account of her religion, and that it would be unsafe for her to return to Nigeria. From 2000 to 2005, Judge Benton granted asylum to only 21.6 percent of the asylum seekers in his court, making this victory especially rewarding.
The firm has applied for derivative asylum status for Ms. Ugbaja's four children so that they can join their mother, who they have not seen since October 2006.