Mr. Minnella first learned about Safe Passage Project in July 2014 when he attended a Continuing Legal Education event at the Practicing Law Institute, where Lenni Benson spoke about the immense need for quality legal representation for children in Immigration Court Proceedings. During that same summer, large numbers of children were fleeing their home countries because of gang violence, domestic abuse, and poverty. As Matt heard their stories, he knew that he had to help in some way. Matt has experience with both service and advocacy in the nonprofit realm through his volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity. His passion for people and standing up for their rights is what lead to his recent success on his Safe Passage case. Last month, Mr. Minnella helped his Safe Passage client successfully obtain asylum.
According to Mr. Minnella, “the asylum process was at times confusing, and there were a number of challenges, but with the support of Safe Passage attorneys and interpreters, I was able to successfully represent my client and help him gain asylum”.
For Mr. Minnella, learning about the asylum application process and the United States immigration system was certainly useful, but Matt says that the most success came when he was able to develop a good rapport with his client. This helped him to stay even-keeled regardless of how hard it was to hear the most difficult parts of his client’s story multiple times.
Towards the end of the asylum process, Matt’s client asked him if he would be able to stay with his family if he gained asylum. Matt never considered that this might even be a question, but realized that if his client still had this fear, even with all the support his client’s family received from Safe Passage Project and from Matt himself, then he couldn’t imagine how much more fear all the children who don’t have any legal support must experience.