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COVID-19 Response Fund Success Stories

Apr 20, 2020 | Updates

Thanks to the wonderful supporters of LACLJ’s COVID-19 Response Fund, we are happy to share the following success stories to spread some good news into the world:

– Sam* came to the U.S. when he was 15 years old as an unaccompanied minor. LACLJ attorneys represented him in court and helped get Sam’s brother appointed as his guardian. Sam was then able to apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, a form of immigration relief for children who have been abused, abandoned or neglected. In 2017 when Sam’s petition for SIJS was approved, LACLJ successfully terminated his removal proceedings in immigration court. Because the SIJS program was so impacted, it was not until late 2019 that Sam was eligible to file for permanent residency. Now, at 20 years old, Sam is a legal resident! He is looking forward to continuing his education and pursing his dream of becoming a nurse.

– Lupe* came to the U.S. to seek asylum as she feared for her life in her home country. She sought out help from a friend in the U.S. who promised her safe passage. Upon arrival Lupe was trafficked for domestic labor and debt bondage by the person she trusted. Lupe’s trafficker did not allow her to attend her hearings in immigration court resulting in a deportation order. LACLJ was able to represent Lupe and her family and successfully petition for T Visas. Lupe and her family no longer fear deportation and are now on a path for lawful permanent residency.

– Vanessa* is a survivor of human trafficking and was represented by LACLJ. Unfortunately, her T Visa was denied. USCIS acknowledged that she was a victim of labor trafficking but argued that she failed to meet the eligibility requirement of being in the U.S.  on account of trafficking because of the 15 years between escape from her trafficker and her T Visa petition. LACLJ filed an appeal arguing that the USCIS denial was erroneous and did not consider all of the facts. Vanessa’s appeal was granted and her case was sent back to USCIS to issue a T Visa.

– Evelyn* is a mother in her mid twenties. Her partner, 20 years her senior, became physically abusive when Evelyn was pregnant. Her partner continued the abuse throughout the relationship and almost killed her in 2018, forcing the child to intervene. Evelyn’s abuser was arrested and convicted of 26 counts of domestic violence against her. While he served a year in jail, he made multiple calls threatening to harm her and take her child. Once her abuser was released, he pursued visitation rights. Evelyn feared for her child’s safety. LACLJ represented her and helped her obtain a temporary restraining order with no visitation rights for her abuser. Evelyn can now feel a greater sense of security for herself and her child.

– Ana*, a woman from Central America, began receiving death threats and feared for her life. In search of safety, she turned to a family friend who promised her safe passage to the U.S. Once in the U.S., Ana’s friend threatened her and forced her to work 19 hours a day, 7 days a week as a domestic worker. Ana was able to escape from her abuser and found help at LACLJ. LACLJ attorneys were able to identify Ana as a survivor of human trafficking and represented her in her immigration petition. We learned in April that her T-Visa was approved! Ana is now safe and free from her trafficker.

Fergie* is a 37 year old mother of three. Although she had a three-year restraining order, her abusive husband continued to harass her, threaten her and use their children as a pretext to continue to be aggressive with her. One night, he even went to her house drunk and threatened to call the police on her. With her restraining order expiring, Fergie knew she needed help. After carefully considering the risks of going to court amid closures and COVID-19 concerns, she knew she needed to move forward. In late March, LACLJ represented Fergie in court and was able to secure a new five year restraining order for her. With this new restraining order, she feels a greater sense of security and safety, which is critical during these times.

Maria* is in her late-thirties, is a monolingual Spanish speaker, and has survived years of financial, emotional and physical abuse at the hands of her U.S. Citizen husband. As a single mother of six, all she wants is to start a new life where she can provide for her family. LACLJ helped Maria with her VAWA and Adjustment of Status petitions. In mid-March, we represented Maria before an immigration officer and her petition was approved. Maria now has her green card and a chance to begin anew in America.

Kimmy* is a human trafficking survivor, but law enforcement felt that she wasn’t being helpful and that she had only been a victim of battery. LACLJ stepped into action as Kimmy’s victim’s rights attorney at an interview with law enforcement. We advocated for Kimmy to show her full cooperation in the process and ensure the full scope of her trafficking experience was captured by law enforcement. Without these steps, Kimmy would have likely been ineligible to apply for immigration relief in the future. And more importantly, she would not have felt heard that her experiences and her story was valid.

Sandra* is in her mid-thirties and a mother of two young children. For years, she endured physical and emotional trauma by her abusive husband. Unable to afford an attorney, LACLJ helped her with her VAWA self-petition. In March, we also represented Sandra at her interview regarding her application for lawful permanent residence. We are happy to share that her green card was approved that day! Sandra is now a Lawful Permanent Resident!

Barbara* recently fled from her partner, who had been abusing her and her four children. She obtained a hearing date for a restraining order, but couldn’t serve her abuser as he evaded contact. LACLJ helped Barbara try to serve her husband by looking up his last known address, calling his last known numbers and telling his family members of the hearing date. On the date of the hearing, he didn’t show up. Barbara’s LACLJ attorney argued to the court that we took reasonable steps to serve the husband, but he was evading service. We asked the court to grant an order to serve by posting, which involved the Sheriff’s Department posting the notice of hearing at a public forum in the courthouse. After the required period of time had passed, we went back to court and successfully secured a restraining order for Barbara. She now feels an increased sense of safety and more secure in being able to protect her children.

 

Thank you to all our generous donors for taking this moment to help out others in need! If you’d like to contribute to the Fund, click here for individuals and click here for corporate sponsorships. (links open in new tabs)

*Actual names are changed to protect the privacy and safety of clients.

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