Pro Bono: Man who fled Ecuador gains resident status

Attorney describes how she helped a family stay together, and the personal rewards of doing so.

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  • | 6:00 a.m. September 11, 2017
Iana Darlington Jordan Benjamin helped a client facing persecution in Ecuador re-enter the U.S. as a permanent resident.
Iana Darlington Jordan Benjamin helped a client facing persecution in Ecuador re-enter the U.S. as a permanent resident.
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Many times, the path to a goal requires multiple steps, and in the life of an immigrant, there are no guarantees.

When attorney Iana Darlington Jordan Benjamin accepted a pro bono immigration case, it was clear that in order to avoid deportation and achieve permanent resident status for her client, it would be at least a two-step process and there would be risks along the way.

In the end, the goal was accomplished — legal permanent residence status for her client. Benjamin  describes her case:

What were the basic facts of your case?

My client fled his home country of Ecuador because he faced persecution. His country was fraught with government corruption, restrictions on freedom of the press and violent oppression of indigenous peoples.

My client fled to the U.S. and married an American citizen. They have two children. When the family moved to Florida, my client did not have documentation, but he and his wife began building a life for their children.

Knowing the stability of their family was in jeopardy and with the possibility of deportation an ever-present threat, my client and his wife sought assistance. The best course was for him to return to his home county and then re-enter the U.S.

Together we drafted special documentation for him to return to his home country and then re-enter the U.S. as a permanent resident.

What were you able to accomplish for your client?

We were able to file a waiver for my client to obtain a visa. Though my client had to return to his home country before he could be permanently reunited with his family, it was necessary.

My client is now a permanent resident of the U.S. and able to enjoy the benefits awarded to every resident.

Why was the outcome important to your client?

He is the primary caretaker of his two young children. He and his wife have no family in his home country. Additionally, it would have been a complete economic, social and spiritual burden for my client to have to return to his home country because of the persecution he faced.

What did you gain from the experience?

It was important to me because I am an immigrant. I have a unique perspective of the immigrant experience, so I often find myself deeply concerned about the plight of immigrants. I learned that whenever I am presented with an opportunity to use my time, skills and talent to impact a life positively, I should never hesitate to take such an opportunity.

What is the name of your firm? In what areas do you practice?

The name of my firm is Darlington Jordan Law. I practice immigration law, family law, real estate law and I also create wills and trusts for clients.

What advice do you have for other attorneys considering pro bono involvement?

It is so rewarding when you get the desired result for your client, especially when your client is on the brink of deportation with the possibility of experiencing permanent separation from family. I encourage my peers to take just one pro bono case. One case can change a life, change a family, change a community or change the world. That change, that impact, starts with just one case.

For information on the opportunities and our local organizations offering them, attorneys are encouraged to contact [email protected].