15 May 2018
Mayer Brown announced today that US litigation professional support lawyer Catherine Bernard (Washington DC) received the “2018 Pro Bono Attorney of the Year” honor from the Tahirih Justice Center at its 21st annual Greater DC Gala. Ms. Bernard was honored for her diligent work securing asylum for a family of Salvadoran refugees.
In 2015, Ms. Bernard, working alongside the Tahirih Justice Center, obtained Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and dismissal of removal proceedings for Ms. X, a seven-year-old Salvadoran national who had been physically and sexually abused by her father, a MS-13 gang member. In 2016, Ms. X received a green card. On December 15, 2017, Ms. Bernard and Tahirih secured asylum for Ms. X’s uncle, Mr. Y, after a two-day individual merits hearing before the Arlington Immigration Court. Mr. Y, also a Salvadoran national, endured rape, beatings and death threats from MS-13 gang members because of his identity as a gay man, and because he assisted his mother in securing custody of Ms. X from her father. In December 2018, Mr. Y will be eligible to apply for a green card. Ms. Bernard is also representing Ms. Z, Mr. Y’s mother and Ms. X’s grandmother, in her pending application for asylum.
“My work with the Tahirih Justice Center has been incredibly enriching and meaningful,” Ms. Bernard said. “For many of my clients, this is the first time someone has been on their side and committed to ensuring their access to justice. Being able to provide that kind of representation is truly an honor. I am grateful to Mayer Brown for facilitating my involvement and providing the resources necessary to litigate these complex cases.”
The Tahirih Justice Center is a nonprofit organization that works to protect immigrant women and girls from gender-based violence through legal services, advocacy, and public education programs.