Working pro bono with the full support of her firm, Ballard Spahr, Michelle McGeogh helps her client build a case for credible fear screenings, a critical first step in the asylum process.

In a credible fear screening, the Department of Homeland Security interviewer questions the detainee about his or her grounds for feeling persecuted: Has the individual ever been threatened or harmed due to race or ethnicity, religion, nationality, political opinion, or because the person belongs to a specific social group? This is a key moment in the interview, because if the applicant’s fear is not attributed to one of these factors, the asylum case is likely to fail.

"The reason I got involved in doing this immigrant work was because I was horrified by the (U.S. government) policy of family separation at the border," says McGeogh, who earned her J.D. from UB School of Law in 2007. "I have two kids, so the family separation issue is really what inspired me."

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