LSC is now celebrating its 45th year providing pro bono legal assistance to children and youth so that they may stabilize their lives and realize their full potential.
Below is a special video presentation from LSC’s virtual awards event, held on May 27, highlighting presentations from Knauer and this year's other Pro Bono Honorees.
Permanent residence obtained for Central American refugee
The LSC highlighted Knauer’s work in obtaining legal permanent residence in the U.S. for a 20-year-old immigrant from Guatemala. Reed Smith has been working on this case since 2015 when it achieved Special Immigrant Juvenile Status for the sixteen-year-old refugee. This type of temporary legal status is reserved for minors who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by one or both of their parents. Our client had escaped physical abuse at the hand of his mother’s boyfriend in Guatemala, and he has not had contact with his biological father since he was 12.
The client fled to the U.S. by way of Laredo, TX, where he was detained and subsequently released to his sister’s custody in San Francisco, where the firm helped the client’s sister obtain guardianship over him.
Knauer took over this case in September of 2017 and helped the client obtain and maintain employment authorization as he awaited his visa, so that he could legally work. Knauer also assisted him through the USCIS medical examination process, and helped respond to multiple requests for evidence from USCIS with regard to his visa application.
Finally, after nearly four years of waiting, the client received his visa in August 2019, and he now has permanent legal status in the U.S., living in Houston, where he works as an auto mechanic.
Settlement reached in eighth-grader’s wrongful expulsion
Knauer’s second case involved the representation of an eighth-grade student in an expulsion proceeding. The client had been wrongfully accused of sexual harassment and was scheduled for an expulsion hearing before a panel of school district administrators. His parents were concerned that these accusations were strictly a product of racial discrimination by school staff, because this student was one of fewer than 10 Hispanic students in his middle school.
Meanwhile, the school had kept this student had been out of school for two and a half months while he waited for his expulsion hearing, and his parents were also very concerned that he was falling too far behind in his academics. Their number one priority was to get him back in school as soon as possible to minimize the negative impacts from his prolonged suspension.
Rather than proceeding with the expulsion hearing, Knauer negotiated a settlement with the school district to allow his client to immediately transfer to a new school and to have his expulsion allegations expunged from his record, so long as he finished out the school year without any further issues.
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