Carrie Brasser, a Minneapolis-based lawyer, is an inspiring volunteer for The Advocates for Human Rights who helps to make the organization’s work possible. Brasser began volunteering for The Advocates in 2018 and has been an enthusiastic volunteer since. Over the past three years, Brasser has participated in several projects for The Advocates, including representing clients in several asylum and immigration cases, traveling to Geneva as a member of the 2019 United Nations Study-Advocacy team, and participating in remote international advocacy in 2020 to brief members of the United Nations Human Rights Council on human rights issues in the U.S. and Honduras. At The Advocates, Brasser has been able to pursue her passion for immigration and asylum work as well as international justice. This past month I had the pleasure to speak with Brasser about her work with The Advocates.
Brasser first became interested in immigration work when she was a litigation associate at Jones Day in Chicago and doing a lot of pro bono immigration work. “Immigration [work] was a way for me to link [my interests in] international [relations] along with the law,” Brasser explained. In 2018, upon arrival in Minneapolis, she sought out The Advocates at the recommendation of several friends. Her first asylum case with The Advocates is one “which I actually still have now… the hearing will not be until June of 2023.”
Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, Brasser was also volunteering with the Immigration Court Observer Project so that she could get into immigration court and understand the proceedings. After witnessing several of the hearings of detained immigrants – mostly their bond hearings – Brasser told me that she had this feeling of “I could do this.” And so, Brasser, with the help of The Advocates, began representing detained immigrants in their bond hearings. She began representing her most recent client – an asylum seeker from Somalia – in December 2020. “Because he was detained during COVID, I was never able to meet with him and everything was over the phone,” Brasser said, when asked about some of the difficulties of working virtually. Finally, in 2021, after months of hard work, Brasser won her case, and her client was able to remain in the United States. “I did that at my kitchen table,” Brasser added triumphantly.
Ever since college, Brasser has been interested in international relations and with the inner workings of the United Nations. When she discovered The Advocates’ unique United Nations Study-Advocacy Trip to Geneva, she was excited to help. In 2019, Brasser participated in this Study-Advocacy Tour. While in Geneva, Brasser lobbied members of the Human Rights Council on a myriad of topics including LGBTQ issues in the Ivory Coast. She also made an oral statement on Burundi at the UN Human Rights Council and a three-minute presentation to the UN Human Rights Committee regarding problems with the asylum system in the United States. Being particularly passionate about immigration and asylum matters within the United States, Brasser was excited to return to the Human Rights Council in 2020 when the United States would be undergoing its Universal Periodic Review. However, due to COVID-19, The Advocates’ international advocacy had to be remote in 2020, including a series of virtual side events with panelists sharing information and taking questions from Human Rights Council delegates. Brasser focused on matters of police accountability and reform in the United States. At a second virtual event, she presented recommendations addressing gender-based violence in Honduras.
Brasser’s passion for asylum and immigration law and international justice is inspiring. While she is thankful to The Advocates for giving her these opportunities to serve others, it must be noted that the work of The Advocates could not be actualized without the help of volunteers like her. Thank you, Carrie, for your commitment to immigration work and international justice. It is with great honor that The Advocates presents to you a 2021 Volunteer Award.
Please join us on Thursday, June 24 for the Human Rights Awards Dinner to celebrate Carrie and all of our 2021 award recipients. RSVP on our website to receive access information.
By Jenna Schulman, Advocates for Human Rights intern and student at the University of Pennsylvania
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