11 Focused on What Matters Julio recently completed a graduate degree in international law, and gives tours of historic Boston sites to Spanish-speaking visitors. His wife works as a financial advisor, and his son proudly attends elementary school wearing a Patriots jersey—a gift from his dad’s legal team. At the post-hearing celebration, Julio had one last request: “Peter,” he asked, “may we pray?” All present joined hands, and Julio thanked God for Mintz Levin. Coming Out and Breaking Through “Niki” didn’t come to the United States seeking asylum. As a high school student in Iran, she wanted to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and then go back to be with her family. But in the freedom of a US college environment, Niki found a political voice and embraced her sexual orientation. By senior year, she knew she’d become someone the Iranian regime would never tolerate: an outspoken lesbian, an atheist, and a critic of Iran’s repressive policies. Given the Iranian government’s strict enforcement of political, sexual, and religious restrictions, Niki appeared to have a strong case for asylum. If she returned she could be arrested and tortured—or disappear, never to be heard from again. Only two factors complicated what might have been a simple asylum process: Niki had never been persecuted in Iran, and she hadn’t filed her asylum application by the statutory deadline of a year after entering the United States. Referred to the firm in 2011 by Immigration Equality, an organization dedicated to helping LGBT immigrants, Niki worked with attorneys Narges Kakalia and Chris Lhulier, Project Analyst Adrienne Darrow, and former Mintz Levin attorney Thomas Williams to build a case that would explain why she should be allowed to remain. They argued that Niki’s need for asylum sprang from life changes that she couldn’t have foreseen years earlier. Since she’d left Iran, Niki had matured physically and emotionally. The teenager who came to Boston had grown into a self- assured woman. In preparation for Niki’s asylum interview, Adrienne researched conditions in Iran, while attorney Matt Hurley and former Mintz Levin attorney Jonathan Ursprung led Niki through mock interviews.“Itwasreallyateameffort,”Adriennesays.“Weworkedtogethertocompilesubstantive evidence for Niki’s case.”That evidence included affidavits from Niki’s friends and family as well as an expert opinion, written by an LGBT Iranian human rights activist, on conditions in Iran. At the interview, Niki impressed her asylum officer with her sincere and articulate answers.“Niki was a great advocate for herself—incredibly smart, passionate, and outspoken,”Narges says. The officer quickly approved Niki’s application. Now living in Rhode Island, she’s free to be who she is and to speak out for those who can’t speak for themselves. Making the Case for Asylum (continued) (continued)