Maria came to the KBI with her four children last fall after a two-year journey, fleeing extortion and kidnapping threats from a criminal gang in her native Honduras. We shared her story as advocacy and church groups in Green Valley, AZ welcomed her and supported her through the asylum process. Now, we happily report on the successful outcome of her case.
As a small business woman in Honduras, Maria was able to support her four children as a single mom. But when the local arm of an international gang began extorting monthly payments from her, threatening to kidnap her kids if she failed to pay, she packed up and fled north, arriving in Nogales, Sonora after two years of travel with periodic stops to earn money for the journey.
Maria and her family stayed at Casa Nazareth for three months while KBI advocacy staff worked with partner organizations to secure a pro-bono lawyer and prepare her asylum case. A sponsor makes the asylum process much easier and eliminates the stresses of long detention or the burden of a high bond as a family awaits their hearing date. Fortunately, the Green Valley–Sahuarita Samaritans and the Good Shepherd United Church of Christ of Sahuarita stepped in to sponsor Maria and her children, offering them a place to live and day-to-day support—transportation, translation services, financial assistance, and other neighborly help—throughout the waiting period. The whole family became an integral part of the community, and Maria has been volunteering with the Good Shepherd Food Bank while her children have been active in school sports and other activities.
In March, Maria’s attorneys presented her family’s case to an immigration judge. After so many steps and deadlines in the process, now the only thing left to do was wait.
Then in June, they got the good news. Asylum was granted! And the weight of worry—about deportation and its dangers, her children’s well-being and ongoing education, maintaining continuity for the family during an uncertain time—was lifted. After 3,000 miles of travel and a year of preparing and presenting their cases for asylum, Maria and her children can finally put down roots in a neighborhood where they are already part of the fabric of life there. She now has the security and stability to make plans and look forward to the future. Maria’s story illustrates the unyielding courage and commitment it takes to seek asylum, the power of individuals and community groups to positively impact an immigrant family’s possibilities, and in very practical terms, the great benefit of solid legal representation to fulfill a family’s dream of a better life.