September 22, 2021  |  News

Cades Schutte Volunteers Assist the University of Hawai‘i Refugee & Immigration Law Clinic in Winning Asylum Case

Airplane Flying Between Palm Trees

Beginning in 2019, volunteer attorneys from Cades Schutte assisted the University of Hawai‘i (UH) William S. Richardson School of Law Refugee & Immigration Law Clinic (the “Clinic”) in an asylum case for a Guatemalan single mother and her two children in the Honolulu Immigration Court.  On August 16, 2021, she and her children were finally granted asylum, marking a significant win within a system historically reluctant grant such relief.

In their former home of Guatemala, the client and her children were targeted by the Maras, or gangs. Her modest family-run shop was extorted, her son physically assaulted for his unwillingness to join the gang, and her daughter was followed to and from school.  The family fled the country after gang members appeared outside their home at night, shot the dwelling while they were inside, and made verbal threats to them.  Due to the widespread prevalence of the gangs, relocating elsewhere in Guatemala would not afford them protection.

They traveled from Central America to the southern border, then to the mainland U.S., before arriving in Kona on the Big Island, where they knew an acquaintance.  Andrea K. Ushijima, a partner in the Finance, Real Estate and Corporate Department at the firm, and Dana A. Barbata, formerly with the firm in the Litigation Department, used their pro bono hours and the firm’s resources to assist with this case.

Despite complexities caused by language barriers, interpretation of cross-border law, and delays caused by COVID-19, the team was able to obtain a favorable outcome for the client and her children.

The Clinic offers valuable legal services to the community, and an opportunity for volunteer attorneys and law students to assist in these critical cases.  Asylum cases require in-depth client interviewing, sensitivity in working with trauma-impacted clients, work with interpreters in a cross-cultural context, the gathering and organizing of documentary evidence and country conditions research, and trial preparation. With a complex legal context and rapidly changing policy dynamic, collaboration skills are critical. When it all fits together, as it did in this case, the team was able to extend the protection of our asylum laws to vulnerable families in dire need.

Learn more about the Refugee & Immigration Law Clinic.

About Cades Schutte LLP

Cades Schutte is a full-service law firm with over 70 attorneys, providing superior service in over 20 practice areas from the Firm’s main office in Honolulu and offices in Kona, Waimea, Kahului, and Līhuʻe. Since the Firm was founded in 1922, Cades Schutte attorneys have been called on to serve as counsel in some of the most notable cases and transactions in the state of Hawai‘i.

Cades Schutte offers a wide range of corporate and personal legal services with an emphasis on business counseling. The Firm is proud to serve local, national, and international clients, and regularly handles estate planning, tax, and personal litigation matters.

Cades Schutte is organized into four departments—Finance, Real Estate, and Corporate; Litigation; Tax; and Trusts and Estates—but departmental lines are fluid. Cades Schutte attorneys from different departments routinely collaborate on projects to benefit clients. This approach provides a full array of the Firm’s expertise and experience.

Utilizing a ‘firm first’ mentality, the firm has adopted a democratic style of management in which the strategic direction and vision for the firm is developed by its partners, and headed up by its Management Committee. Together, this Committee serves as the Firm’s key visionary, and is specifically charged with implementing the direction and mission of the stakeholders.


Erika Galarneau
Marketing & Business Development Manager

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