Davis Polk recently secured release from immigration detention and obtained U.S. asylum status for a young man from Guinea. Our client, “Mohammed,” and his family were involved in the anti-authoritarian political movement in Guinea. He fled his home country in the face of persecution. He was referred to Davis Polk through the Youth Justice Network, which provides formerly incarcerated young people with individualized advocacy and mentorship.

When Mohammed was young, he attended an anti-government rally with his family. Government soldiers opened fire and began attacking the protestors, shooting Mohammed, and raping and killing others. Fearing for his life, Mohammed fled Guinea. After being smuggled into a nearby country and living in hiding for several years, Mohammed tried to return to Guinea. He was discovered by military forces and once again attacked. Mohammed then fled to Brazil, from which he eventually traveled by caravan to apply for asylum at the U.S. border. 

After arriving in New York as a teenager, Mohammed was arrested and imprisoned for six months on Rikers Island for minor charges. Even though the criminal charges were eventually dropped, the government continued to hold him, as an asylum seeker, in immigration detention for almost a year. After the immigration judge denied Mohammed asylum, Davis Polk successfully appealed the ruling, resulting in a remand to the original judge to consider certain errors of law. 

In February 2022, after a contested asylum hearing, an immigration judge granted Mohammed asylum, with the right to live and work in the United States indefinitely, effective immediately. However, the U.S. government noted their intent to appeal, the pendency of which prevented Mohammed’s release from detention. Unexpectedly though, only days later, the U.S. government withdrew their intent to appeal and Mohammed was immediately released from detention. He is now living in New York with family. He is looking forward to returning to school, working, and starting a new life in the United States, free from persecution.

The Davis Polk team included Chief Pro Bono Counsel Amelia T.R. Starr, senior counsel and former Special Counsel for Pro Bono Sharon Katz, associate Luca Marzorati, Pro Bono Attorney for Humanitarian Immigration Matters Nishan Bhaumik, and court clerk Emma Colchamiro.