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Troutman Sanders Helps Win Asylum for KIND Pro-Bono Client

08.02.17

Four team members sit and smile on couch in Troutman Sanders office.

From left: Kathrine Beno-Valencia, Christina Iturralde, Buck Dixon and Maria Rodriguez. The group helped win asylum for a boy escaping gang violence and recruitment in Guatemala.

Troutman Sanders’ Buck Dixon has helped secure asylum for a Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) pro-bono client, the first asylum approval to come out of the Atlanta KIND office.

The client, 14, fled his village in Guatemala to escape intense gang violence and recruitment. Gang members threatened to kill him because of his refusal to join and sell drugs, beat him to an extent that required hospitalization and set fire to his home. Police and municipal courts in the village had withdrawn all services, leaving the client and other villagers with no protections.

“Troutman Sanders has been with KIND since we launched in 2008 and has been one of our most steadfast, extraordinary, and deeply dedicated partners,” said KIND President Wendy Young. “It is not a surprise that the firm and Associate Buck Dixon have won a landmark case for KIND in Atlanta and saved a boy’s life from gangs in Guatemala. KIND would not be the success it is today if not for Troutman Sanders.”

KIND and its partners represent unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children in their deportation proceedings, ensuring no child appears in court alone. KIND has been referred more than 14,000 unaccompanied children since it opened its doors in 2009 and has trained over 20,000 pro-bono attorneys. Many of the children are fleeing gang and narco-trafficking violence and human traffickers in Central America and seeking safety in the United States. KIND’s Atlanta office opened in December 2015 and has more than 100 open cases with nearly 30 pro-bono partners.

“KIND attorneys provide representation to individuals who face unthinkable atrocities at young ages,” Dixon said. “They play an integral role in helping provide these young clients with an opportunity to lead a normal life.”

Asylum approvals are notoriously difficult to secure in Atlanta. In 2015, immigration judges denied 98 percent of asylum petitions. Dixon, an Environmental and Natural Resources Associate at Troutman Sanders, was able to secure approval by the asylum office so the client will not have to go before an immigration judge.

About KIND
KIND was founded by the Microsoft Corporation and UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie, and is the leading national organization that works to ensure that no refugee or immigrant child faces immigration court alone. We do this in partnership with over 485 law firms, corporate legal departments, law schools, and bar associations, which provide pro bono representation to unaccompanied children referred to KIND for assistance in their deportation proceedings. KIND also helps children who are returning to their home countries through deportation or voluntary departure to do so safely and to reintegrate into their home communities. In addition, KIND advocates to change law, policy, and practices to improve the protection of unaccompanied children in the United States, and is working to build a stronger regional protection framework throughout Central America and Mexico.

About Troutman Sanders
Troutman Sanders LLP is an international law firm with more than 650 lawyers in 16 offices located throughout North America and Asia. Founded in 1897, the firm’s lawyers provide counsel and advice in practically every aspect of civil and commercial law related to the firm’s core practice areas: Corporate, Energy and Industry Regulation, Finance, Litigation and Real Estate. Firm clients range from multinational corporations to individual entrepreneurs, federal and state agencies to foreign governments, and non-profit organizations to businesses representing virtually every sector and industry. See troutmansanders.com for more information.

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