April 12, 2017

‚ÄčOn April 12, 2017, Gibson Dunn's clients, a recently-married couple from Guatemala and El Salvador, were granted asylum in the United States, with the assistance of Philip Shapiro, Phillip Sanders, and Michelle Santoro, under the supervision of Joe Evall. The wife is a transgender woman who suffered four severe assaults by co-workers, gang members, and strangers in Guatemala due to their perception that she was a gay man. She was also severely abused by her family, who refused to accept what they viewed as "feminine" behavior and attraction to men. To escape this persecution, she emigrated from Guatemala to the United States in 2002, but did not consider seeking asylum until she had begun to transition to her correct gender in 2014. She was referred to Gibson Dunn that year, and an asylum application was promptly prepared and filed in December 2014. While awaiting an asylum interview, Gibson Dunn helped her to change her name to conform to her gender, and obtain work authorization and a Social Security number. After she married in October 2016, the Firm took on her husband as a client and, at their request, he was joined to his wife's pending asylum application. An asylum interview was scheduled in February 2017. The Gibson Dunn team prepared an extensive letter-brief establishing the wife's grounds for asylum and why she should be excused from the one-year application requirement. After the interview, the asylum officer took the unusual step of inviting supplemental briefing on difficult issues the case presented. Their new status will enable the husband to obtain work authorization as well, which they hope will finally enable them to afford a honeymoon in Miami.