You are currently viewing Checkmate!

Next, our attorney Carolina T. Curbelo narrates the incredible true story of overcoming and success of the young Nigerian Tanitoluwa.

On March 15, 2019, I remember my friend and former S&C colleague, Heather Volik, reaching out to me frantically about how there was a talented young boy, Tanitoluwa (“Tani”) from Nigeria playing chess in the same club as her kids and in dire need of legal representation.

Knowing Heather, I was sure the matter was of the utmost importance. She told me that this boy and his family were living in a NYC homeless shelter, had come to the United States escaping Boko Haram, and did not have an immigration attorney. Understanding the family’s circumstances, I told Heather that I would be happy to represent the child and his family on a pro bono basis on the condition that she would work the matter with me.

The following morning, March 16, 2019, New York Times journalist, Nicholas Kristof, wrote a Sunday opinion piece that catapulted our clients to stardom not only in the NYC tri-state area, but nationally and globally as well.

the incredible journey of tanitoluwa

Since the start of our representation, Tani, has proven to be a chess prodigy, garnering the attention of the media and such figures as former U.S. President Bill Clinton. Not only has he written for both adult and children versions of his story, but he and his family have created the Tanitoluwa Adewumi Foundation to help children achieve excellence in learning the game of chess and competing in chess tournaments by providing funding for those in need who cannot afford to do so for themselves.

Heather and I were committed to getting asylum for Tani, his parents, and his brother. Thanks to partner Matthew Ingber and his legal team, consisting of Christopher Mikesh and Justin Perkins of the law firm of Mayer Brown, we were able collectively to provide the Adewumi family with both the immigration and litigation expertise to achieve a successful outcome. On September 22, 2022, U.S. Immigration Judge Virna Wright granted asylum as part of a joint agreement between our clients and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, by and through the Office of the Principal Legal Advisor. 

On behalf of my firm, I want to extend my congratulations to the Adewumi family on achieving the American dream – protection from persecution. And then of course, I wish Tani the best in his future endeavors and hope that he becomes the youngest Grandmaster.

Additional thanks goes to Dr. Rhonda Greenberg and her forensic psychology team, Attorney Shamsey Oloko, Esq., the chess community and fans, and journalist Nicholas Kristof for believing in this little talented boy and supporting us – the legal team – in all aspects to get this case successfully adjudicated.

At Curbelo Law, a team of US immigration law professionals led by attorney Carolina fight every day for the protection of hundreds of aliens seeking a fresh start in the United States.

Expert in different areas of immigration law, our attorney can help you with different visas such as the T visa, the U visa or the asylum process in the USA among many other migratory reliefs.

Regardless of your immigration status and legal needs, do not hesitate to contact a firm committed to the protection of human rights.