Making a Positive Impact Together
June 20, 2024 - MoFo Pro Bono

MoFo Partners with Oasis Legal Services to Support LGBTQ+ Asylum Seekers

Morrison Foerster is piloting a new project with our longtime pro bono partner, Oasis Legal Services, to draft declarations on behalf of LGBTQ+ asylum seekers. Over the past few years, the firm has collaborated with Oasis by conducting country conditions research, which is used to support its clients’ asylum applications.

Oasis Legal Services is a San Francisco Bay Area-based nonprofit whose primary focus is serving LGBTQ+ immigrants. It offers comprehensive, trauma-informed legal and social services, providing legal assistance in areas such as asylum, residency, naturalization, the Violence Against Women Act, and family petitions. According to Oasis, the organization has “helped over 2,700 queer and trans immigrants navigate immigration relief and benefits.”

In many countries, LGBTQ+ individuals suffer violent attacks and extreme prejudice. Some countries have codified this discrimination into their laws, allowing individuals, with impunity, to murder, hurt, and ostracize LGBTQ+ individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Those LGBTQ+ individuals able to flee to the United States can apply for asylum and, if successful, eventually become legal permanent residents and then U.S. citizens. Globally, the LGBTQ+ community is often among the most vulnerable and simultaneously invisible, causing these asylum seekers to frequently encounter additional challenges within an already complex legal framework.

For this new project, MoFo is pairing lawyers with summer associates to interview asylum seekers and draft and complete their declarations over the summer. The declarations will explain, in the clients’ own words, the harm they experienced in their home country and the fear they have of future persecution if they were forced to return.

“Oasis Legal Services is an incredible pro bono partner and we are grateful the organization has given us a chance to be even more involved in its asylum work,” said Pro Bono Counsel Dorothy Fernandez. “It’s a privilege to work with these courageous Oasis clients to help them tell their stories as they work to start a new life in the U.S.”

The MoFo volunteer teams include San Francisco partner Mike Vernace and summer associate Shannon Labuschagne, San Francisco associate Sara Tsai and summer associate Mel Tapia Cortez, San Francisco associate Tiarra Rogers Stein and SEO Law Fellow Paola Tejeda Gonzalez, Palo Alto associate Briana Mittleman and summer associate Juweria Mehtar, and Los Angeles associate C.B. Rome and summer associate Soraya Morales Nuñez.

Learn more about MoFo’s pro bono efforts.