My Publicly Funded Immigration Lawyer Gave Me Hope When I Faced Fear and Despair

Safe Client Story Ana Hero

In detention, we had to sleep on concrete benches or the floor because there were so many of us. I was cold and so sad to be there. Sometimes they gave us a little mattress, but there were never enough of them. They give you aluminum to wrap yourself in, but it doesn’t warm you. Sometimes, you don’t sleep.

I brought my son from Guatemala so that he could have a better life here in the United States. He was being threatened by gangs where we lived. They showed up at our house with weapons looking for him. They threatened to hurt him and kill me if he would not join. My poor nephew had been killed by one of the gangs, and so we believed their threats. I was especially vulnerable as a woman and knew I could be killed by the gangs who wanted my son or by the same people who murdered my nephew and were still angry at our family. I could not let my son be hurt or be forced to join the gang, so we fled. Coming to the United States was a very hard journey that took one month. We traveled through Mexico. Sometimes we ate; sometimes we did not.

When we crossed into the United States and were in the desert, we saw the headlights of the immigration cars. They asked us what we were doing, and we said that we wanted asylum. They sent us to a detention facility, which was a terrible place.

They separated me from my son after we were detained. I was in a cell with other women like me, and my son was with young kids like him. I couldn’t see him, and I was so sad and worried. It was so sad that there were so many children there, all closed in. It just fills me with sadness to remember hearing them cry.

There are still so many people who are stuck in detention and don’t have lawyers. Now, with COVID-19, they really need people to support them. It is really awful to be in those places. I don’t know why I was released, but I was very lucky. When I got out, someone gave me the phone number for Long Beach Justice Fund. They provided me with an attorney free of charge to help me file a claim for asylum.

In the claim, we told the judge that it is not safe for us in Guatemala because we are the target of gangs and people who have resisted gang recruitment. Guatemalan women who oppose association with gangs are in great danger.

I was happy to have the opportunity to speak at public meetings to ask the government to provide more funding for the Long Beach Justice Fund so that they can help more people like me. There are so many of us who need legal assistance. If I hadn’t had a lawyer, I would have felt totally alone and without support. I would probably have given up and agreed to be deported.

My son is happy now; he is not afraid of anything. He says that it is different here. My hope is that we can win our asylum request and stay in the United States. My dream is that we can have a better life in this country.