LACBA's AIDS Legal Services Project Thanks Two Long-Term Volunteer Immigration Attorneys—Ally Bolour and Brian Schield 

Immigration attorney Ally Bolour has represented “LN,” an HIV+ pro bono client, for the last 13 years in his quest to become a U.S. citizen. In 1989, LN fled El Salvador with his mother and sisters. While his family became U.S. citizens, LN’s petition stalled and was later denied because he tested HIV+. Still hoping to legalize his status, LACBA’s AIDS Legal Services Project (ALSP) referred LN to Bolour, who in his usual and very thorough way, proceeded to try and help the client receive immigration relief.

When LN’s Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) 203 application was denied, and they couldn’t find proof that a family petition had been filed, Ally had to start over and filed a new family unification petition with LN’s mother. It took many years for LN’s visa to become current, but Ally kept the file open and monitored its progress. When the time finally came, Ally filed LN’s adjustment application so he could become a Legal Permanent Resident, and later filed his naturalization application when LN became eligible. He became a U.S. citizen this summer.

“It is very difficult to navigate the U.S. immigration system, and without a patient, skilled advocate, it can be nearly impossible to legalize status, particularly if you don’t have the resources to retain an attorney,” said Laurie Aronoff, ALSP director. “ALSP and LN are grateful for Ally's service and dedication.”

Brian Schield, an immigration partner at Squire Patton Boggs, is currently representing six pro bono matters on behalf of ALSP. His most recent success story was gaining legal permanent residency for “IE.” When she was 32 years old, IE left Guatemala and her young daughter to respond to a summons from her husband, who had come to the U.S. seeking medical treatment. It turned out he was HIV+ and transmitted the virus to his wife. When she arrived to help take care of him, he was living with a new boyfriend and his sister. All three became physically abusive to IE, but with no money and nowhere to go, IE stayed until she was arrested on false charges, which resulted in removal proceedings. A social worker referred IE to ALSP, and in 2010, ALSP referred her to a pro bono attorney at Latham who filed a U Visa application and defended against IE’s removal in court.

Two years later, Latham successfully resolved IE’s U Visa but kept the file open to help her daughter with a derivative application. IE's journey to Green Card status continued, and in 2015, IE became eligible to adjust her status to Legal Permanent Residency. But, we had difficulty tracking her down which became even more dire since IE had a limited amount of time to file an application or forever lose her chance to adjust her status. In IE's case, it really took a village to help. With assistance from Public Counsel’s dedicated immigration attorneys, IE was found, prepped and referred once again to ALSP, which like many times before, turned to Schield. With a deadline looming, Schield and his team assembled a last minute application. Six months later, IE became a Legal Permanent Resident and will soon be reunited with her daughter.