A Christmas Miracle
Rufus was referred to our office through an organization that helps survivors of torture. For 30 years my office has handled cases for victims of political persecution which often involves torture. Our work in this field earned an award from the United Nations in (Mr. Garfield was recognized through a Community Human Rights Award from the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area — an award for which he was nominated by the director of the Center for Multicultural Human Services in Arlington, Virginia.). Because of our footprint in this area, the organization that was treating Rufus asked for our assistance, and after hearing Rufus’ story, we agreed to accept the case at no fee. Rufus was the victim of terrible torture by a warlord in his home country of Liberia, West Africa. Rufus was captured by brutal rebels controlled by a warlord, Charles Taylor. He was thrown in a pit and held for months. He was taken out of the pit and tortured many times. Rufus witnessed the torture and death of many others. At the point of an AK-47, Rufus was forced to perform an inappropriate on a fellow prisoner or he would be shot in the head. Thinking of his wife and 4 children, Rufus complied and was thrown back in the pit where he expected to be killed later. In the meantime, Rufus and the other prisoners were miraculous saved by international forces. The rebel leader, Charles Taylor, and his son who participated in these war crimes were later taken to Court in the United States. Rufus was contacted by the US department of Justice who brought him from Liberia to the United States as a witness in the trial that took place in Florida. At trial as a witness for the U.S. Government, Rufus described his treatment. His testimony helped convict the warlord and his son. Later, Rufus filed for political asylum using another attorney to represent him. Meanwhile, his family remained separated from in in Africa. When the case stalled for 2 years, the organization treating him for the effects of torture referred Rufus to me, and I learned from the asylum office that his case might be denied because they considered Rufus as a potential persecutor himself for engaging in those acts at the point of a gun. The asylum office continued to stall on the case, even after we submitted a strong letter from the Assistant Attorney General in Florida which supported his case, and explained his role in testifying on behalf of the Government. The Attorney general even attached a copy of his testimony which was compelling yet sad. When the asylum office continued to delay, our office took action and filed a case in federal Court to force a decision. We also warned the asylum office that this matter could be shared with the media which would be embarrassing for all. The case was promptly approved. Finally Rufus could file for his family back home. He had not seen his children and wife for many years. In the meantime, while waiting for the paperwork to for the family, the Ebola virus ravaged Liberia and many neighbors and friends of Rufus were dying. His family was saved from the ebola by hiding out in their home. Last month, while I was in Washington DC for Thanksgiving, Rufus brought his wife and four children to my office from his hometown, Philadelphia. They had arrived from Liberia. The psychologist who treated him was there too. It was a miracle for them and for us, and it was an appropriate that this took place on Thanksgiving. Now the family has moved to North Dakota where Rufus found a good job. Their first Christmas together in the U.S. will be snowy indeed. It’s not all about money; it’s about the Christmas spirit. Happy Holidays from the Garfield law group to the Honolulu Korean community and to Rufus and his family.