Recently, Maggio + Kattar celebrated the Supreme Court’s ruling recognizing that same-sex marriage is a fundamental right. Less than two weeks later, we were delighted to also celebrate the grant of asylum to pro bono client Ricardo by the immigration court in Baltimore, Maryland. Ricardo’s case reminds us that while the United States has come a long way in recognizing the dignity and worth of LGBT individuals, our clients from around the world continue to suffer horrific mistreatment and persecution in their home countries on account of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
Ricardo is a young man from El Salvador who suffered mistreatment from a young age by his family and others because of his sexual orientation. He endured beatings, death threats, and verbal abuse. The persecution in his home country worsened after he was diagnosed as HIV positive in 2010. He was fired from his job and received death threats by gang members. Ricardo fled to the United States in 2013 to seek asylum, and he was apprehended by Immigration officials upon entry to the country. While in ICE custody, he became gravely ill because ICE officials did not provide him with his HIV medication.
When Ricardo was finally released from custody and moved to Maryland, Maggio + Kattar agreed to accept his case on a pro bono basis and represent him in his proceedings before the immigration court. On the date of the hearing in July 2015, the Immigration Judge granted asylum, and the government waived appeal.
Ricardo is doing well in the United States. He has a supportive group of friends, a steady job, and access to medical care. He looks forward to a bright future and has much to contribute to the country.