When only 15 years old, Juan fled to the United States from Guatemala to escape violence and persecution.
After years of pursuing multiple ways to secure his legal status, ILJ-MI recently told Juan that he will receive his green card as a Lawful Permanent Resident!
Juan escaped gang violence in his home country that was exacerbated by his father’s alcoholism. Juan’s childhood memories are of his father punching him in the face, pummeling him with a belt and seeing his mother battered and beaten.
When Juan arrived in the U.S., he was placed in a facility that was supposed to help him finish school and keep him safe. Instead, Juan was victimized and stalked by one of the staff members who watched him while he showered and constantly harassed him. One day, the staff member followed Juan into his room, sexually assaulted him and then laughed at him. Juan bravely came forward and testified about his experiences, helping several other children do the same.
Because he endured so much in both countries, Juan qualified for several types of immigration relief. During the last five years, ILJ-MI has defended Juan in Immigration Court and assisted him with a Special Immigrant Juvenile Petition, a U visa for victims of crimes and an asylum application. The final application to become a Lawful Permanent Resident concluded his long struggle.
Yuwiska Alcantara, ILJ-MI Department of Justice Accredited Representative, was instrumental in helping Juan navigate his immigration journey. Together, they have dealt with changing laws, shifting visa dates and extended processing times. When the arrival of Juan’s new baby made it difficult to meet a filing deadline, Yuwiska quickly made special arrangements to help Juan secure the necessary documents and medical exams. This past month, Yuwiska was finally able to congratulate Juan on becoming a Lawful Permanent Resident! Juan told her, “I am forever grateful to you for changing my life.”
Juan has been working steadily as a roofer since he graduated from high school. Now 22 years old, he is a foreman at his current job. On weekends, Juan takes his young son to the park where they run, play and laugh. Juan said he gives thanks every day that he can remain in the U.S. permanently and continue to work to ensure that his son can be anything he wants.