In 2019, Alam fled his home in Bangladesh because his family faced persecution due to their political beliefs. The government began violently cracking down on anyone who opposed the ruling political party, leaving Alam afraid for his life.  

His trip to the U.S. was a modern-day odyssey: he first traveled to India, then flew to Brazil and made his way north through jungles, deserts, and rivers, often sleeping outside. He was 17 years old.  

When he arrived to the U.S. and asked for asylum, another odyssey was about to begin—this time, with immigration courts.  

As a minor, Alam was initially placed in a government-run children’s shelter. However, instead of releasing him to live with family, the government ignored his birth certificate and records showing he was 17 and instead sent him to an adult detention center. The government claimed that dental x-rays revealed Alam to be an adult, even though forensic experts agree that x-rays cannot show an exact age. 

Our Advocacy Team filed a habeas petition with the court, which challenged the legality of Alam’s detainment. However, a judge dismissed this petition. We appealed. An immigration judge also denied his asylum case. Alam remained in detention during the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. He was finally released that summer because a health condition made him particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. However, he was still under threat of deportation.  

We worked closely with Alam’s private counsel on his appeal of the asylum denial. After an initial denial, the Ninth Circuit agreed to re-hear his case. We later took over representation of Alam before the Ninth Circuit on his asylum appeal. 

For a year, our Advocacy Team engaged in negotiations with government counsel until Alam finally won asylum this May! He is currently living with family in Pennsylvania, working, and is practicing his English. He wrote us this message.  

“I just wanted to say thank you. I will never forget that you have done a lot for me, which I can’t explain. I get shocked when I think about my case– I had nothing, no status of my case 2 years ago. Now I have everything because of you. 🖤”