GIVING HOPE TO ANA AND HER FAMILY
Ana and her five children fled their home country, afraid for their lives. A cartel, with the assistance of law enforcement, had executed the father of two of her children. Those same men came looking for Ana and her family. She made the agonizing decision to bring her children to the U.S. border to request asylum. While their case was pending, ICE required Ana and her family to check in every six months without missing any appointments. However, in March 2018, ICE officers informed them that they would be deported in two weeks for missing their court hearing.
Desperate and afraid, Ana’s support network connected her with PLAN. We discovered ICE had given the wrong address to the Phoenix Immigration Court, and Ana never received notice of the court hearing. Within a few weeks, PLAN’s motions to reopen the case and rescind the deportation orders were granted by the judge. Ana and her family are now able to remain in the U.S. and continue fighting for asylum.
PALOMA FINDS HER VOICE
As a child growing up in Mexico, Paloma was bullied and teased. To survive, she learned to remain silent at an early age. By the end of the 1980s, her life took a tragic turn. A law enforcement officer detained and raped Paloma, threatening to kill her family if she said anything. Afterwards, he drove by her house to laugh at her. To survive and protect her family, Paloma once again remained silent, burying the pain deep inside her.
In the 1990s, Paloma decided to leave Mexico behind and make a new home for herself in the United States. She kept her head down and worked hard for a better life. Although she had been part of our community for more than 20 years, she still felt alone. Paloma then joined the Trans Queer Pueblo (TQP), an LGBT migrant community of color that gave her safe space for the first time in her life. TQP connected her with critical resources, including PLAN’s legal services. With the support of TQP’s community, Paloma found her voice, and through PLAN’s legal support, she also found peace of mind when she won her asylum case.
A NEW CHAPTER FOR DEYBETH AND HIS WIFE
Deybeth grew up in Mexico feeling different because he didn’t like to put bows in his hair or wear dresses. He was constantly harassed and abused for being a “lesbian.” One day, Deybeth found his dog shaved and killed. A note was left behind warning that he would be next. Fearing for his life, Deybeth fled to the United States and has lived in Phoenix since 2005.
In 2017, Deybeth joined TQP, and with their support, he came out as a transgender man. Deybeth married his longtime partner and connected with PLAN for legal support. Over time, PLAN was able to build a trusting relationship with Deybeth and learn more about his story. PLAN obtained an expert mental health evaluation that explained the ongoing psychological trauma that he suffered, and used it to help present legal arguments and reasons for Deybeth’s delay in filing for asylum. With PLAN’s legal support, Daybeth and his wife were granted asylum.
QUICK ACTION LEADS TO ASYLUM FOR ELENA
Elena, from Guatemala, had been detained. With representation from the Florence Project & Immigration Rights Project and support from TQP, she was released on bond. She then married her partner in the United States because doing so was considered illegal in her home country. PLAN stepped in to provide Elena legal support as a non-detained immigrant. Her case was set for a final hearing in two and a half months, an abnormally short period of time. Such hearings often take years to be scheduled.
PLAN expedited the collection of evidence, including a low bono expert declaration on the targeting and lack of protection for lesbian women in Guatemala. At the hearing, Elena presented compelling testimony about the harm she faced in Guatemala for being lesbian. At the end of her testimony, the immigration judge granted her request for asylum and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) waived appeal. Soon thereafter, PLAN was also able to secure asylum status for Elena's partner. Both are now living happily in Phoenix with their new chosen family.