You may remember that I asked for your support to help us represent people who are in immigration removal proceedings. Your support helped reunite a family on Thursday.
This family’s story is not unique
Aurelina came to KIAC asking for help in September. Late last year she, her husband and three children fled persecution in the form of violence, severe discrimination, and extortion in Guatemala. They had been preyed upon for ten years by a gang, suffering repeated death threats and beatings because of their Mayan heritage. Upon reaching our border they were placed in removal proceedings, meaning our government wanted to send them back. ICE arrested her husband, Cristobal, when the family went to their monthly check-in in September and took him to the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma for expedited removal proceedings.
KIAC stepped in with legal assistance
As soon as we heard about this we filed to be Cristobal’s legal representatives and filed for him to receive a credible fear interview to establish the veracity of his persecution. We represented him in his interview and the asylum officer validated his claim. That was just the first step. He would still have to appear before an immigration judge who would determine whether or not to deport him.
Our legal team of Ray Garrido and Lirio Webb, with help from Dr. Marsha Cutting, built Cristobal’s defense case. With help from the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
and advocates around the country we filed a 225-page trial brief. On November 30th in a courtroom at the detention center, we argued his case for withholding of removal. The judge ruled in Cristobal’s favor! His case was so strong the government decided not to appeal it, so the judge’s order was final. At 4pm that day Cristobal walked out of the detention center into the arms of Aurelina. Shortly after, he was reunited with his children.
Our work for this family is not done
Because of your support we accessed training that enabled us to represent Cristobal, secure his freedom, and reunite him with his family. But our work is not done. Aurelina and their three young children are in removal proceedings and we will apply for and represent them in their asylum hearing. We won’t rest until they have all been granted justice.
Currently KIAC has only one representative who can represent people in immigration court. There are so many more people who have no representation. We want to help as many as we can. We want to tell you many more stories like Cristobal’s.
You can make the difference. There are so many people like Cristobal and his family who need your support. This is a time of year when we reunite with our families to celebrate holidays. So as you gather with your family, think of the Lopez’s joyful reunion and those still yearning for one and give generously to KIAC to make more reunions possible. Thank you.
Read more about the Lopez family’s reunion in this Kitsap Sun article: