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Clark Hill’s Ana Sami Secures Asylum for Cameroon National

July 19, 2023

Ana Sami successfully secured asylum for Bobo Negoue of Cameroon in June, more than seven years after Negoue fled his country to the United States.

Sami began handling Negoue’s case in February 2022 when his employer, Frank Fumich, requested legal assistance. Negoue has worked for Fumich’s airplane catering business at Reagan National Airport for several years.

I don’t think there’s any feeling that can compare to successfully helping somebody in Bobo’s situation. Individuals like him are so deserving of living a free life,” Sami said.

Negoue’s Background

Negoue’s journey to fleeing to the United States began when he was a university student and began to be targeted by government officials for his political views and Bamileke ethnicity. He was first arrested in December 2005 as a member of a student group that advocated for change. He and others were seeking to improve living conditions for students and lower tuition fees.

After further trouble over the next two years, Negoue fled to Equatorial Guinea in December 2007. He met his wife there, and his wife returned to Cameroon in 2011 to give birth to their daughter. Negoue returned to Cameroon 11 months after his daughter’s birth to be with his family. His stay in Cameroon was short-lived, however, as he had to flee to Equatorial Guinea again in July 2014.

Two years later, Negoue was deported from Equatorial Guinea to Cameroon, where he received help to avoid arrest, and escaped to the United States on Oct. 8, 2016.

Negoue immediately applied for asylum upon arrival, but due to the severe backlog at asylum offices across the country, he did not receive an interview for six years.

Legal Process

Sami filed a mandamus for Negoue in December 2022 and received an asylum interview date for March 2023.

“It becomes a bit of an unknown as to when people may receive their interview,” Sami said. “Due to the unreasonable delay, we filed a mandamus to sue the government to give us an asylum interview, and we got lucky to get one quickly after that.”

As part of her strategy, Sami included a medical exam as part of Negoue’s supporting documentation. Physicians trained to examine signs of physical abuse determined that scars and bruises throughout his body were a result of beatings that occurred while imprisoned. “We argued that Bobo was persecuted as an ethnic minority and for his political opinion, both of which are protected grounds to request asylum.”

While Sami said that processing times following asylum interviews can several months to even years, Negoue received his approval in less than one month.

With asylum status in hand, Negoue has already applied for his immediate family to join him as refugees. The initial application was submitted, and despite an average reported processing time of 22.5 months, the cases were approved and forwarded to the embassy for further processing in less than one month.

“I can’t explain why the processing was so fast because that’s never been the case before, but maybe it was just a stroke of good luck,” Sami said.

“For attorneys like myself, this exemplifies the idea of why people come to our country for freedom and to choose their beliefs without being harmed. In a sense, I believe we save lives, and I believe it to be a privilege to successfully be a part of someone’s story as they start a new life in the United States.”

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