[Please note: The Client’s name and case key details may have been altered to preserve the identity of the client. This Success Story is not intended to be an offer of service or case plan. Every case is unique. The Success Story is presented for information purposes only.]
A fiercely independent young woman, Dina, aged sixteen, journeyed to the United States from Guatemala by herself in 2020 to escape a dangerous family situation involving her father, a very abusive man who frequently beat Dina, her mother and her siblings and wanted to force Dina into a pre-arranged marriage with one of his drinking buddies.
Although Dina had once appealed to the authorities for help, she was quietly told by a local judge that nothing could be done because her dad was too well connected.
Fortunately, Dina had an uncle in Tennessee named Axel who had just become a United States citizen who took Dina in and arranged for her to meet with the Margaret W. Wong team in Memphis.
Upon hearing her story, our team believed that Dina was a prime candidate for “special immigrant juvenile status” so we petitioned for a hearing in the local juvenile court that placed us on its July docket. This gave us time to send out and receive back the necessary paperwork from Dina’s mother in Guatemala who was relieved that her daughter had found a safe environment.
At the hearing, just as we wanted, Dina was designated as a ward of the court and Axel was appointed her guardian.
We then filed with USCIS a package that included an I-360 (Petition for Special Immigrant-Juvenile who needs the protection of the juvenile court because she/he has been abused, neglected, or abandoned by a parent) and a I-485 (Application for Legal Permanent Residency).
In March of 2021, we received word that Dina’s I-360 had been approved and we expected that she will become a legal permanent resident by the end of year which made us happy because Dina was succeeding quite well in learning English and mastering the social structure of high school in the United States; indeed, she was quite an asset to the soccer squad because she had played the game since she was practically a toddler in her homeland.
Oddly, the most difficult challenge that we faced was obtaining an employment authorization document (EAD) for Dina because she didn’t come from Guatemala with the necessary identification.
To remedy the dilemma, Axel took a couple of days off and drove Dina to the Guatemalan consulate in Chicago so that the young woman could secure a passport which led to the EAD being issued after a very short time.
When our team thanked Axel, who we regarded as a great guy, for undergoing so much trouble just so Dina could work part time after school and on weekends in the immediate future, he threw up his hand and complimented his niece for her ambition.
Axel then shook his head and noted that he had to chase after his own youngsters to get them to do their homework, take out the trash, and clean the back yard so he really welcomed Dina as a role model.