An Appeal from the APA Board of Directors

The ship is sinking. Your lifeboat has room for only a few. Whom do you choose to pull to safety? Whom do you leave to swim with the sharks?

With the urgent need for legal representation for asylum seekers and torture survivors far outstripping the Asylum Program’s financial capacity, we soon may be forced to make gut-wrenching choices about whom to assist and whom to leave at risk of deportation and further persecution.

With funds for only a few, whom would you leave behind …

  • Veronica” … a Nicaraguan woman targeted by her government for helping wounded protestors at a medical clinic and advocating for survivors of domestic violence?
  • Jessica” … a Mexican woman who, despite having lived in the U.S. since early childhood, is at risk of incarceration, rape, torture – even death – in one of Mexico’s notorious institutions for people suffering from mental illness?
  • Sayyed” … an Afghaniman under threat of imprisonment and torture by the Taliban?
  • Brahim” … a Mauritanianman jailed and beaten to the point of temporary paralysis for protesting human rights abuses and institutional racism?

These are but a few of the compelling cases the Asylum Program of Arizona (APA) regularly encounters. We accepted them all. But sadly, whether we choose to fund legal representation for the next Veronica, Jessica, Sayyed, et al., may depend more on our bank account than on the urgency and strength of their cases.  

Will you please give a generous, tax-deductible contribution today to the Asylum Program of Arizona so that we don’t have to make that choice? (APA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, so your contribution is tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.  If you file income taxes in the State of Arizona, your gift qualifies for a Arizona Charitable State Tax Credit – up to $421 per individual and $841 for couples filing jointly.)

For traumatized survivors of persecution including torture, it is crucial to have an experienced attorney to help navigate the intimidating, complicated, and adversarial asylum process.

Otherwise, their outlook is grim: 90% of asylum seekers without legal representation in Immigration Court are denied, while their chances of being granted asylum are five times higher with an attorney, according to TRAC Immigration, a nonpartisan, nonprofit data research center at Syracuse University.

Recent government directives make the process even harder.  Many asylum cases today can be won only on appeal, which makes the need for skilled legal counsel even more acute.

APA is the last hope many non-detained, indigent, and low-income protections seekers have for obtaining quality legal representation in their cases for asylum or relief under the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT).

Each potential client is screened by our board’s volunteer Legal Services Committee for income eligibility and whether they have a viable case. For asylum, they must have a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country due to their race, religion, sexual orientation, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. 

For CAT, applicants must also show they are likely to face torture or death if deported, that such harm would be inflicted by the government of the nation they are fleeing, or that their government would turn a blind eye. 

We recruit private attorneys with experience in the highly specialized areas of asylum and CAT law.  When free representation is not available, we negotiate reduced attorney fees and split the costs with our clients. If the client is unable to share costs, APA pays all fees. 

As an all-volunteer organization, APA has little overhead: 97 cents of every dollar you contribute pays for attorneys to represent asylum seekers and torture survivors who have no other options for legal representation!

That means the number of protection seekers we can bring aboard is directly related to the amount of money we raise from individuals like you.     

We need a bigger lifeboat.

Please contribute today so that we’ll continue to have room for survivors of persecution; so that we can accept new clients based on the merits of their cases rather than the amount of money in our checking account; and so that no protection seeker is left to sink or swim.

Your financial support in any amount is deeply appreciated.

Thank you,

The APA Board of Directors

(Affiliations for identification only)

Lynn Marcus, President

Director, Community Immigration Law Placement Clinic, University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law of Law

Keith Schaeffer, Vice President & Treasurer

Technical Writer (retired)

Valerie Hink, Co-Secretary

Immigration Attorney, Southern Arizona Legal Aid (retired)

Erika Kreider, Co-Secretary.

Immigration Attorney, Private Practice (retired)

Wendy Ascher

Managing Attorney, Director of Intake, Southern Arizona Legal Aid

Howard Paley

Owner, Photographer, Guide at Southwest Photo Safari, Llc.,

General Manager, Phoenix Opera

Andrew Silverman

Joseph M. Livermore Professor Emeritus of Law; Director, Civil Rights Restoration Clinic, U of A James E. Rogers College of Law