On Monday a Congolese couple, Regina and David Bakala, was granted asylum by immigration court judge O. John Brahos. They claimed they would be tortured or killed if they were deported to their African homeland, but the decision saved their lives.
"It was stressful for both of them, the whole process," Sfasciotti said. "You can't imagine how emotional it was for them."
Sfasciotti said publicity helped the couple, who have 7-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son who were born in the United States.
Regina Bakala has fought a deportation order since 1997, when a judge rejected her asylum application. Bakala contends her previous attorney improperly filed the application and omitted claims about the rapes and imprisonment she says she suffered while fighting for democracy in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She said she would be subject to attack if sent back.
Bakala claims government troops raped her for supporting an opposition party before she fled the Congo, formerly known as Zaire, in 1995.
Her husband David claimed he was tortured for working for a political party before he fled to the United States and would be harmed if he returned.
The couple's case was later combined.
The judge granted David Bakala asylum Monday after his lawyer presented evidence of his post traumatic stress disorder, and Regina Bakala was granted asylum because they are married, Sfasciotti said.