For over three years, Jason Dzubow, of Dzubow & Pilcher, PLLC, has volunteered as a screener for CLINIC’s BIA Pro Bono Project, which matches vulnerable asylum-seekers and lawful permanent residents with pro bono counsel to bring their cases before the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). This month, Jason was recognized as one of Washingtonian Magazine’s Top Immigration Attorneys in the Washington, D.C. area for the second year in a row.
A graduate of Georgetown University, Jason further facilitates access to justice for needy immigrants as an adjunct professor of Immigration Law at George Mason University and through his blog, The Asylumist.
To highlight his outstanding achievements and contributions to the BIA Pro Bono Project, we asked Jason to share the experiences that have made the greatest impression on his work.
How did you become involved in immigration law and, specifically with the BIA Pro Bono Project?
Prior to law school, I worked in refugee resettlement as a job developer for a social service agency in Philadelphia. I was also interested in immigration and human rights during law school. After law school, I clerked for the Arlington Immigration Court and worked for Catholic Community Services until opening my own firm.
I became interested in the BIA Pro Bono Project because I wanted to see a wider variety of cases and get a sense for what is happening in immigration across the country. Also, this was a good way to help needy immigrants that worked with my schedule.
Is there a particularly moving Project case that has left an impression on your work?
There was a case where the Immigration Judge (IJ) ordered a young man removed to El Salvador. While in El Salvador, gang members had targeted the young man and his family because his parents refused to let a gang member date his sister. The gang murdered the parents and a sibling, but the young man escaped. This was even documented in news articles from El Salvador.
The IJ ordered removal because the persecution was not “on account of” a protected ground. Had the young man been represented, he could have shown that the persecution was on account of a protected ground – particular social group – since the gang had targeted his whole family, and family is defined as a particular social group. The case is currently on appeal with the Sixth Circuit, and the young man has been matched with a volunteer attorney through the BIA Pro Bono Project.
What are the highlights of your screening appellate cases with the BIA Pro Bono Project?
The best part of volunteering as a screener with the Project is knowing that people like the man above have found lawyers to help them. I also value the opportunity to see the decisions of IJs around the country and gain a better understanding of the system.
How do you view the role of the BIA Pro Bono Project in the provision of legal services to immigrants?
There are not enough resources to allow everyone in need to have a pro bono lawyer, but the Project helps ensure that the most needy, and those with a real chance for relief, are able to present their cases and – hopefully – receive the relief they are entitled to. Without this Project, families would be separated and people would be returned to countries where they face persecution.