News & Insights

Dykema Wins Asylum for Afghan Families Who Created Secular Schools for Women

Family Sought Asylum After Receiving Threats From Taliban

June 15, 2017

Dykema, a leading national law firm, is proud to announce that pro bono clients Samira Hakimi and her two sons, four and eight years old, and Nazifa Nabizada and her 10-month old son were granted asylum in the United States after more than five months of detention in the Karnes County Detention Facility. Rene Ruiz and James “Marty" Truss, San Antonio-based members in the firm’s Government Policy & Practice group, represented the Hakimi family. David West, a member in Dykema Cox Smith’s Financial Services Litigation practice, and Josué Galván, a Commercial Litigation associate, represented the Nabizada family.

Samira and Nazifa fled Afghanistan last year with their families due to persistent and ongoing threats by the Taliban. The Hakimi-Nabizada family, led by its patriarch Ghulam Rasool Nabizada, a well-known singer in Afghanistan, founded three very successful secular, English-speaking schools in Afghanistan that teach an international curriculum and focus on women’s education. Shortly after opening the schools, the family began to receive death threats from the Taliban, who claimed that the schools were “non-Islamic” and that “very bad things” would happen if they were not closed. The family was forced to move out of their home, reside on campus, and hire private security for their own safety. The Taliban attacked two of the school campuses in an attempt to intimidate the family into shutting down the schools.

In an effort to protect the youngest of his family, Mr. Nabizada was able to secure visas for Samira and Nazifa, and their children, to fly to South America. Their journey was delayed in Brazil so that Nazifa could give birth to her son. Once Nazifa’s son was one-month old, the two families trekked to the United States over the course of several months. When the families crossed the Texas border in December of 2016, they immediately requested asylum, but were denied bond and remained in detention during the pendency of their cases.

After the cases were referred by RAICES, a nonprofit legal assistance agency that assists undocumented immigrants in Central and South Texas, Rene, Marty, David, and Josué agreed to represent Samira, Nazifa and their children in January 2017. More than a month after multi-day hearings, which included testimony from Dr. Marvin Weinbaum, a regional expert on Afghanistan and the Taliban, Immigration Judge Craig Harlow found that Samira and Nazifa’s testimony was credible, that their fear of future persecution was reasonable and well-founded, and that the Afghan government cannot control the Taliban enough to protect them and their families. The court stated that “Samira and her family members have taken serious personal risks in order to provide access to education for women in Afghanistan. The Court finds that Respondent is an excellent candidate for asylum…” 

Samira and Nazifa, and their children, were released from Karnes County Detention Facility within hours of the Court’s decisions. They were elated with the news and immediately flew to California to reunify with family members who were already settled there.

“This result for Samira and Nazifa would not have been possible without the deep commitment of Dykema and its lawyers to pro bono matters and giving back to the community and helping those in need,” said Ruiz. “The resources and support provided by the Firm were invaluable.”

Government attorneys have 30 days to file an appeal.