Client Stories

Below is the story of one asylum seeker whom Ascentria assisted. Identifying information has been omitted or changed to protect the client’s identity.

Andrew is a 26-year-old Ugandan man. He was the son of a wealthy farmer and a supporter of President Musevini (PM). His father was very politically involved. The President of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) began consulting with him about his presidential campaign. At that time, PM began cracking down on the opposition to secure his position as President of Uganda.

Andrew began organizing for the FDC on his college campus. In 2003, Andrew’s father and brother were abducted by government soldiers during the presidential campaign. They were later found killed with evidence that they had been tortured. Thereafter, Andrew was abducted and tortured by government soldiers for his involvement with the FDC. He later fled to the United States to escape torture and certain death.

When Andrew came to the United States, he was severely depressed, still had untreated injuries, and suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He applied for political asylum pro se, but he did not know much about the asylum process. He had a hard time expressing himself at his asylum interview because of the severe trauma that he suffered. He lost his affirmative asylum case and received a notice, explaining why his claim was denied (Notice of Intent to Deny or NOID). He answered the NOID pro se but was not successful.

At the time, his case was not referred to the court because he was still in legal status as a student. With only one semester left and his student status ending, he was in a panic and sought legal assistance from Lutheran Social Services.

Since Andrew had already lost his case and was found not to be credible, Andrew and his attorney spent six months gathering new evidence before reapplying. They submitted ten letters of support from various individuals, including: people who knew him and his father in Uganda, FDC party leaders in Uganda and in the United States, and priests who helped him when he was in hiding. They also submitted supporting documents, such as: medical documentation of past torture, depression, and PTSD by a medical professionals who volunteer to perform psychological evaluations for the Ascentria Immigration Legal Assistance Program (ILAP) through Physicians for Human Rights; a medical report from his doctor in Uganda; and extensive country conditions documentation.

Eventually, Andrew received a recommended approval from the Asylum Office - almost 2 years after he filed his initial claim.

Other Client Stories

A 19-year old woman from Guinea without family or friends in the US, victim of rape and torture due to her ethnicity. When she arrived in our office, she had not eaten for three days, her English was extremely limited, she was ill, and required immediate medical care. ILAP lawyers are preparing her political asylum application, and the ILAP social worker has found a safe living situation through the generosity of one of our volunteer families.

An Episcopalian pastor from Togo persecuted for seeking religious freedom, tortured and falsely imprisoned, and left to burn to death after being doused with kerosene. He was saved by a farmer, who risked his own life to aid him, hiding him and caring for him for six months, and then helping him escape to the US, where he can be safe, but has no friends, family or means of support. His asylum case prepared by PALAP lawyers has been granted in 2004.

A young man from Sierra Leone came to our office seeking help with his asylum application. The rebels, after they killed his father and raped and tortured his mother and elder sister threatened to do the same to his three younger sisters unless he agreed to join them. He was assigned to transport and bury the dead, and was kept by the rebels for four years, finally escaping. He never saw his family again. He is seeking asylum in the US and is being assisted by a pro bono lawyer through ILAP.