As an immigrant, I chose to use my language skills, work experience and legal background to serve immigrant children in detention because I believe that my work can make a difference in the lives of these kids.
When I started volunteering in another well-known organization in D.C., I knew very little about the immigration system. Hearing repeatedly the same accounts of sexual abuse, fear of domestic violence or gang violence, and separation from parents who migrated to provide for their children, made me realize the strong need for immigration attorneys and advocates, to help children navigate unfair and hostile immigration laws.
In one of the first cases I assisted, I had the honor to work with David (name changed), a bright teen from the northern triangle who was a straight-A student, despite being forced to work the fields for long hours every day. David took a treacherous journey to the U.S. to flee abuse and seek a better life. After only a few months of his arrival, David was already on top of his class. Meanwhile, David became a U.S. resident thanks to the effort of a team of fearless and restless attorneys and advocates. Last year David graduated from high school with honors and joined the Army to serve this country. His achievements were partly due to an immigration status.
There are many like David waiting for a lawyer to listen and represent them. I see David’s potential in each of them. The support we give may be the difference between thriving or hiding in fear of deportation. David or my dreams are not different from the many immigrants who came here before us. This country was built on those dreams. The diversity that shapes the identity of the U.S. is its biggest strength.
Written by: Helena Guerra, Legal Assistant with our Detained Children's Program
For our Fourth Annual Noviembre de Ninos, we will be taking the month of November, to share updates about our Detained Children's Program, highlight our amazing staff, share stories of our brave young clients, and celebrate the work of our wonderful team.