Elon Law students reunite war torn family
Elon Law students succeeded in advocacy that led to the reunification of a family separated for more than five years by war in Darfur, Sudan.
Students in Elon Law’s Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic worked for the past two and a half years to bring about the reunification of Mr. Yahya Hassan with his wife and three children. Mr. Hassan and his family members are refugees from Darfur, Sudan, which has been the center of a devastating civil conflict that has cost the lives of an estimated 300,000 individuals since it erupted in 2003.
The U.S. State Department brought Mr. Hassan to the United States as a refugee in 2012, and he began a new life in Greensboro, North Carolina. Mr. Hassan sought assistance from Elon University School of Law’s student-staffed Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic, which advocated for reunification visas for Hassan’s wife and three children to enable them to join him in Greensboro.
“I am feeling very, very good,” Hassan told WFMY News 2 just prior to welcoming his family. “My family is coming. My wife and my kids. That’s why I am excited.”
“Law students working on the case faced significant challenges because traditional evidence in support of the petitions—such as birth certificates—had been lost or destroyed as a result of the violence in Darfur,” said Heather Scavone, director of Elon Law’s Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic and assistant professor of law.
The family’s lengthy separation came to an end on December 15 at Piedmont Triad International Airport, when Mr. Hassan embraced his wife and children for the first time in almost six years and welcomed them to their new home.
“It is a privilege to be able to work with clients like Yahya Hassan in the Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic at Elon Law,” said Elon Law alumna Hayley C. Sherman L’15, who worked extensively on the case as a law student. “Even after being separated from his family for six years and suffering so much hardship and trauma, Mr. Hassan has maintained a positive outlook on his situation and has been wonderful to work with. Having the opportunity to serve refugees in Elon Law's Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic is a humbling and inspiring experience that offers true perspective into our own lives. Seeing Mr. Hassan reunited with his wife and three children brought me true joy as well as hope for the future of other refugee families.”
In addition to Sherman, Elon Law alumni Suzi Haynes L’14 and Devon Johnson L’15 worked on the Hassan family reunification case. Elon Law students and alumni present at the airport for the December 15 reunification of the Hassan family included: ShaKeta Berrie L’16, Daphne Hankins L’17, Brian Kaylor L’16, Mackenzie Myers L’16, Adam Roberts L’17, and Hayley Sherman L’15.
Since January 1, 2011, Elon Law’s Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic has served 1700 individuals from 57 different countries. Clients of the clinic are refugees and asylum seekers fleeing war and persecution.