Stories from the Detention Program
José*, originally from Mexico, has lived in the US with his family since he was 10 years old. His parents, wife and two children are all US citizens. After being arrested by immigration authorities and taken into detention, he attended RMIAN’s legal orientation presentation (LOP) at the GEO/ICE detention facility. After hearing the attorney describe the ways to become a US citizen, José opted to complete an individual intake with a RMIAN attorney. Through the general LOP and the individual intake, José learned he was actually a US citizen since he had automatically derived citizenship when his mother naturalized. The next day, José attended his first immigration hearing and told the immigration judge that he believed he was a citizen. He and his mother presented proof of his claim and the immigration judge terminated the removal proceedings. José was released from detention and reunited with his family. Without the LOP and RMIAN’s legal assistance, José would not have known his legal options and may have accepted deportation from the US and been separated from his entire family.
Maria, a Mexican national, married a very abusive man who was a US citizen. When she threatened to divorce him, he called the police and reported that she was trespassing on his property. Maria was arrested and then brought to the immigration detention center for not having immigration status. After hearing RMIAN’s presentation, Maria stayed to talk with a RMIAN attorney. Upon hearing of the marriage and abuse, RMIAN referred Maria’s case to a pro bono attorney. The attorney represented Maria at a bond hearing and she was released on her own recognizance. Maria is now filing a self-petition for victims of domestic violence and hopes to become a lawful permanent resident.
Joe is a national of Vietnam who has been a lawful permanent resident of the United States for 14 years. His mother, his sister, and his six brothers all live in Colorado. Joe went to Vietnam to attend his grandmother’s funeral. Upon his return to the United States, immigration authorities charged Joe as inadmissible because of a 1997 theft offense, arrested him, and took him to the detention center. RMIAN staff met with Joe after the LOP, and RMIAN referred his case to a volunteer attorney, who planned to seek a waiver of inadmissibility for Joe. However, the volunteer attorney successfully argued that the government had not proved its charges against Joe, and Joe’s removal proceedings were terminated. He was released from detention and reunited with his family.
Stories from the Children’s Program
Ahmed, a sixteen-year-old, is from a minority tribe in Somalia which has endured years of marginalization and near slave-like status. After witnessing the murders of his father, siblings, and uncle, Ahmed's only remaining living relative arranged for him to flee Somalia by stowing away on a cargo ship destined for Brazil. Nearly dying from hunger and illness after spending more than two months on the ship, Ahmed eventually made his way to Denver. A family friend told Ahmed about the Children's Program. With the help of a team of volunteer attorneys working on his case for over a year, an Immigration Judge recently granted asylum to Ahmed, affording him the protection and freedom he and his family first dreamed of when he fled Somalia.
Rosa, a fifteen-year-old girl originally from Mexico, was brutally raped at the age of thirteen and became pregnant. With the help of her parents, Rosa is now raising her United States citizen daughter. RMIAN attorneys assisted Rosa, as well as her mother and father, in their applications for U Visas. U Visas provide immigration protection to certain victims of crime who cooperated with law enforcement. Winning a U Visa will allow Rosa to work legally in the U.S. and eventually apply for her lawful permanent residency. Obtaining legal status will greatly facilitate Rosa’s ability to provide a lifetime of meaningful support to her United States citizen child, as well as ensure that Rosa receives the support and services necessary to heal from past sexual abuse and trauma.
Daniel, a fifteen-year-old from El Salvador, was abandoned by his mother when he was three months old. His mother’s whereabouts are still unknown. Daniel’s father tragically died in 2001, when Daniel was only eight years old. Last year, while living with his elderly paternal grandparents in El Salvador, Daniel was harassed and threatened by the powerful gangs that control many El Salvadoran communities. The gangs sought Daniel out because of his strong religious beliefs against gang recruitment and membership. Fearful for his safety, Daniel fled El Salvador and arrived, alone, in the United States in June 2008. Immigration officials detained Daniel in a juvenile detention facility in Texas for three months. After reuniting with his paternal uncle in Denver, Daniel sought assistance from RMIAN. RMIAN attorneys are now working closely with Daniel to apply for “Special Immigrant Juvenile Status,” a form of legal relief available to child survivors of abuse, abandonment, or neglect.
* For confidentiality purposes, real names are not used