Refugee Law Students Win Asylum Case

In late November, two Willamette law students won asylum for a young high school girl from the Republic of The Gambia in Western Africa, where she was at serious risk for persecution and possibly death. Her parents had been killed for their political beliefs, leaving her an orphan while a young teenager. She faced a similar fate if forced to return to Gambia.

Second-year student Ashley Flukinger and third-year student Jonathan Strauhal, who are enrolled in Professor Gwynne Skinner’s Refugee Law course, assisted the woman in claiming asylum and withholding of removal during a deportation trial in immigration court.

“The students agreed to represent the case on a strictly pro bono basis, and they literally prepared the case in about two weeks,” said Skinner, who supervised the students’ work. “Their efforts were heroic.”

According to Skinner, the students conducted an enormous amount of important “country condition” and other factual research before writing the legal brief. They also defended their client at trial, examined her on the stand, introduced evidence and made the closing argument.

“And they won!” Skinner exclaimed. “These students have made such a huge difference in the life of someone facing horrible circumstances and oppression. We should all feel good about what they have accomplished.”