Williams Kastner Pro Bono Team Secures Asylum

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - 01:00

On March 21, 2011, the nationally recognized team of pro bono attorneys at Williams Kastner successfully obtained asylum and withholding of removal for one of its Northwest Immigrant Rights Project clients. The client, a 25-year-old Somali national, fled his home in Kenya and spent six months travelling via smugglers through South and Central America before entering the United States illegally in February 2010. The Department of Homeland Security instituted removal proceedings. At the Master Calendar hearing in October 2010, the Williams Kastner team successfully obtained an expedited hearing on the merits set for January 2011. Following the January trial, which was complicated by issues of firm resettlement and a prior petition for asylum, the judge sent over his decision. On March 21, 2011 Judge DeFonzo ruled in favor of Williams Kastner's client, granting him both asylum and withholding of removal. The government waived appeal. Williams Kastner's Pro Bono Team consisted of Dana Ferestien,Jennifer Veal and Cindy Kusick.

Williams Kastner commits most of its pro bono efforts in Seattle to the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project ("NWIRP"). The mission of the NWIRP is dedicated to providing justice for low-income immigrants, helping to defend and pursue their legal status. The organization relies on volunteer attorneys to provide direct legal services to "uphold basic human rights, preserve family unity, prevent persecution, protect children and provide hope for justice." Since Williams Kastner's partnership with the NWIRP began in 2006, the firm's lawyers have represented more than 20 individuals seeking political asylum and successfully secured asylum for individuals from Gambia, Azerbaijan and Haiti.

Wilton "Bill" Viall, Williams Kastner's Chief Operations Officer and counsel, was elected to the Washington State Bar Association's Board of Governors for a three-year term that will begin following the organization's annual meeting on September 22, 2011. Viall will represent the 8th Congressional District, an area comprised of the eastern parts of King and Pierce Counties.