RK&O recently helped a pro bono client referred by Whitman Walker Health's Legal Services Program to obtain immigration relief in the form of deferred action from removal. Our client, a transgender woman, came to the United States from Mexico as a teenager after experiencing abuse and exploitation because of her sexual orientation. She married in the U.S. and suffered years of emotional and physical abuse by her spouse, a U.S. citizen. Although our client’s spouse expressed his support regarding her gender identity, his abuse escalated after she began to physically transition to a woman.
RK&O assisted our client in filing a Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) application for relief from removal and a request for work authorization. The VAWA application demonstrated the genuineness of her marriage (refuting any contrary implication from the fact that the couple had divorced by the time of the application), put our client's gender identity and transition experience into context and catalogued the extreme abuse to which her U.S. citizen husband subjected her. The immigration authorities granted our client VAWA-authorized deferred action from removal and authorized her to work in the U.S.
RK&O also assisted the client with filing an application for permanent residency, and we await word on disposition of that application. Particularly inspiring is that our client plans to use her strong skills as an interpreter to work with other immigrants in need of assistance. The RK&O team, working in conjunction with Whitman Walker Health, included associate Emily Kelley and paralegal Hannah Carter.