La Raza Centro Legal’s Immigration Law Program Protects Domestic Violence Survivor!
Carla* left her home and family in Guatemala to join Marcos, a friend of the family who had promised to marry her. She remembers the exact date when she crossed the border into the United States because it was her 20th birthday. Sadly, Marcos, who had promised to take care of her, love her and treat her well, was in reality a controlling and abusive man. He isolated her from any friends, and would not allow her to communicate with her family. Marcos would cruelly say, “Why didn’t you die when you were a little girl? May God kill you. People like you don’t deserve to live.” Carla endured six years of abuse, afraid to reach out for help because of her undocumented status. However, in November of 2012, when she saw her little daughter cover her face and scream “no, daddy, no,” Carla had enough. She found the courage to call the police and had Marcos arrested.
About a month later, Carla’s neighbor encouraged her to come to La Raza Centro Legal because she had heard that there might be a special visa for victims of crime. La Raza’s immigration staff attorney, Cecilia Candia, helped Carla sign up for therapy. She also helped Carla prepare and file an application for U Non-immigrant Status (U Visa) with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). After eight months of waiting for a response, Carla and Cecilia received a letter from USCIS, informing them that Carla had been granted Deferred Action, as her application was provisionally approved pending availability of a visa. Carla recently requested work authorization based on her Deferred Action. She is excited to be able to work legally in the U.S. and get a driver’s license. Once she has accumulated three years of presence in the U.S. as a U visa holder, Carla will be able to apply for legal permanent residency.
When asked if La Raza could share her story, Carla agreed, and said that it was important to her that other women hear her story so that they will not be afraid to reach out for help. She also wants other women to know that they should be treated with respect. Finally, she said that she looks forward to raising her daughter in the U.S., and that she is very grateful to those who helped her along the way.
*Names have been changed to protect the Client’s identity