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Erin Barnaby

BREAKING: Fourth Circuit Grants Petition for Review in Crowell & Moring and CAIR Coalition Asylum Appeal

Washington – March 4, 2021: Crowell & Moring and the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition secured a victory at the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which granted a petition for review in the case of a Honduran citizen facing a final order of removal from the Board of Immigration Appeals.

The teams co-counseled the case of Maria Del Refugio Arita-Deras, a young mother seeking asylum after fleeing gang violence directed at her husband’s family in Honduras. Arita-Deras was subjected to a final order of removal from the Board of Immigration Appeals after they affirmed an immigration judge’s conclusion that she was not eligible for asylum based on claimed failures to prove that she had suffered past persecution, to prove that she was persecuted because of her membership in her husband’s family, and to sufficiently corroborate her account of the persecution.

Judge Barbara Milano Keenan wrote the unanimous opinion on behalf of the three-judge panel, concluding that “the Board improperly discounted Arita-Deras’ corroborating evidence, applied an incorrect legal standard for determining past persecution, and erred in its nexus determination.”

Notably, the Fourth Circuit agreed with all of the arguments presented by the Crowell and CAIR Coalition team on behalf of Petitioner Arita-Deras. The Court held that the multiple death threats received by Arita-Deras while in hiding in Honduras demonstrated that she had suffered past persecution, giving rise to a presumption of future persecution. The Court also held that the evidence before the immigration judge was more than sufficient to show the required “nexus” between the persecution that Arita-Deras endured and her familial relationship to her husband, who was targeted by the gang. And the Court also held that Ms. Arita-Deras had presented sufficient evidence to corroborate her asylum claim, in the form of affidavits from relatives and friends as well as the death certificates of family members murdered by the gang.

The case, Maria Del Refugio Arita-Deras; L.A.P.A. v. Robert M. Wilkinson, Case No. 19-1978 (U.S. Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit) was remanded with instructions to take further action based on “the principles expressed in this opinion.”

Pro bono counsel from Crowell & Moring included Amanda Shafer Berman, Clifton Elgarten, Tiana Russell, and Yao Mou.

About Crowell & Moring LLP

Crowell & Moring LLP is an international law firm with approximately 550 lawyers representing clients in litigation and arbitration, regulatory and policy, and transactional matters. The firm is internationally recognized for its representation of Fortune 500 companies in high-stakes litigation, as well as its ongoing commitment to pro bono service and diversity, equity and inclusion.

About Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition

CAIR Coalition strives to ensure equal justice for all immigrant adults and children at risk of detention and deportation in the Capital region area and beyond through direct legal representation, know your rights presentations, impact litigation, advocacy, and the enlistment and training of attorneys to defend immigrants. More information can be found at