Lawyers with Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C., helped to secure asylum for a Sudanese Episcopalian bishop after he became a target for his support of South Sudan, the firm said Friday.
Bishop Andudu Adam Elnail is a native of the Sudanese province of South Kordofan, which borders South Sudan to the north.
Elnail came to the U.S. seeking medical treatment in May 2011. In June 2011, a conflict broke out between the Army of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement in South Kordofan. About the same time, Covington began representing Elnail's quest for asylum pro bono. Associate Arjun Singh Sethi was the lead attorney representing Elnail, supported by partner Gerald Masoudi.
"It was an extremely urgent situation and within the span of a few days, his home was destroyed and looted, his office was destroyed and looted and his church was destroyed and looted," Sethi said. "We also had evidence that the Sudanese government had a list of individuals who were targeted for execution."
Sethi argued that if Elnail returned to his home, he would be persecuted for his political beliefs in support of South Sudanese independence. Covington prepared Elnail's asylum application, his personal affidavit and an expert affidavit. Now that his asylum has been granted, Elnail, living in Denver, is trying to bring his family to the U.S. as derivative asylees.
"Asylum is the way for me to advocate for the people of South Kordofan," Elnail said in a written statement. "I can do more for my people here than if I was in Sudan."
Sethi said that many asylum seekers face the harsh reality that they may never again step foot in their homeland.
"As much as he is a wonderful advocate here, there is a part of him which is in Sudan," Sethi said, referring to Elnail. "That is where he was born and that is where his heart remains."
This article first appeared on The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times.