The Newark office of Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), the preeminent U.S.-based nongovernmental organization devoted to the protection of unaccompanied and separated children, has named Jeffrey J. Wild, Natalie J. Kraner, Rasmeet K. Chahil, Stacy Martinez, and Jarrett Sena as the 2021 Pro Bono Team of the Year.

The team, working with the Lowenstein Center for the Public Interest, recently won asylum for a father and his young son who were forcibly separated upon entry into the United States in 2018. The clients, who are part of a small Indigenous community in Guatemala, faced death threats from a rival group that sought to drive them from their communal land. Male members of the family received similar threats in the past and were brutally beheaded. Facing the same terrible fate, the clients fled Guatemala in fear for their lives.

“It has been a privilege to represent and obtain asylum for one of the families separated at the border under the ‘zero tolerance’ policy,” says Kraner, the center’s senior public interest counsel.. “While this is undoubtedly inadequate recompense for what they suffered because of their forced separation, they can at least sleep safely at night knowing they will never be separated again or forced to return to the horrific and life-threatening conditions that made them flee their home country in the first place.”

In 2008, KIND was founded by the Microsoft Corporation and UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie to address the gap in legal services for unaccompanied minors. KIND now has offices across the United States and in Mexico that provide unaccompanied children with holistic care that includes legal assistance and social services.

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