Susan M. Finegan, Jamison B. Arterton, and John B. Koss, attorneys at Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo,
P.C., and Amarynth Sichel, a Project Analyst at the firm, will receive the
2013 “Outstanding Achievement” award from the Political/Asylum Immigration
Representation (PAIR) Project at the organization’s annual gala on June 19. The
Mintz Levin team will be recognized for their work on a political asylum victory
for a Guatemalan massacre survivor.
|Susan M. Finegan
||Jamison B. Arterton
||John B. Koss
In 1982, members of
the Kaibiles, an elite Guatemalan military branch, massacred over 200 men,
women, and children of Mayan descent. A Guatemalan nonprofit human rights group,
working with Guatemalan and American prosecutors on the case, discovered that
members of the Kaibiles kidnapped at least two Mayan children during the
massacre. The nonprofit group identified Oscar, a 32-year-old man living in
Framingham, Massachusetts with his wife and children, as one of the kidnapped
children. DNA tests confirmed that Oscar was not the son of a former Kaibile
leader, but rather the son of a former resident of the Mayan village.
The DNA evidence and Oscar’s testimony are key elements of cases being
prosecuted in Guatemala and Spain against senior members of the military,
including the current president of Guatemala. As a result, Oscar would have been
in great danger if he were forced to return to Guatemala. In partnership with a
pro bono attorney in New York, Ms. Finegan, Ms. Arterton, Mr. Koss, and Ms.
Sichel filed an asylum petition on Oscar’s behalf. In September of 2012, he and
his wife were granted political asylum.
“We are honored to present this
year’s ‘Outstanding Achievement’ award to the attorneys from Mintz Levin,” said
Sarah Ignatius, Executive Director of the PAIR Project. “It is a miracle that
Oscar is alive. Even so, dealing with the immigration system is vastly complex.
Sue, Jamie, John and Amarynth put forth a tremendous effort, navigating
complicated legal and procedural obstacles, to achieve this important victory
for Oscar and his family.”
“Our team is thrilled to be recognized by
PAIR for our work on this case,” added Ms. Finegan, a member of Mintz Levin’s
Litigation Section and chair of the firm’s Pro Bono Committee. “It was an honor
to work with Oscar and we are delighted that we were able to help him gain
The PAIR Project is a nationally recognized pro bono model that
works to secure safety and freedom for asylum-seekers who have fled from
persecution throughout the world and to promote the rights of immigrants
unjustly detained. The organization is the premier provider of pro bono legal
services to asylum-seekers in Massachusetts.