March 30, 2015

Willkie secures asylum for Honduran teenage brothers. 

The firm recently secured an order granting asylum to pro bono clients-- teenaged brothers --who are natives of Honduras.  Gang violence and criminal activity are pervasive throughout Honduras and the country has the highest per-capita murder rate in the world.  The brothers are sons of a deceased captain in the Mara 18 gang in Honduras’  most dangerous city.  When their father was alive and the boys were young, they were forced to use drugs against their will and spend their time visiting maximum security prisons. After their father’s death, the boys were targeted to replace him as Mara 18 neighborhood captains.  Following escalating death threats, experiencing physical violence and witnessing massacres of classmates and attempted murders of other family members, the boys fled Honduras for the United States. Historically, gang-related asylum claims in the Fifth Circuit are overwhelmingly unsuccessful.  However, associate Clay Brett successfully argued that there exists in Honduras a pattern or practice of persecution by street gangs targeting the children of deceased Mara 18 leaders, which the government is unwilling or unable to mitigate.  Had the brothers returned to Honduras, it is a virtual certainty that they would be killed.  The brothers currently attend high school in Houston.  The matter was handled solely by Mr. Brett, whose representation of the boys began before he joined Willkie. 

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