At 17-years-old, many Americans are worried about learning how to drive, what they should do after they graduate high school, and what their friends are up to this weekend. When Jorge turned 17, he was worried about being hunted and killed by a gang – the gang that had just murdered his dad.
Jorge was born just outside San Pedro Sula, Honduras*. He loved his hometown: its gorgeous Spanish architecture, tropical rainforest borders, with the glistening Caribbean just beyond. But his memories of home are equally riddled with the fear of stray bullets and coercion. By the time his father was killed, Jorge knew that his family’s only chance for survival, for a productive life, lay beyond Honduras’ borders.
All still teenagers, Jorge and his little sisters fled to the US border. They hired a Coyote to help them make the journey with 30 other migrants. When he finally reached the border, he was famished, sun-blistered, and desperate for rest. In the dark of night, he crept over an invisible line and swore to make the country that saved him a better place.
Almost 20 years later, Jorge remembers those first couple of years in the States as a rocky time. He struggled to learn English, fought to find work, and grieved everything that he had lost. He’ll even openly confess that he was pulled over once for a DUI. But he continued to grow, pay taxes, and support what remained of his family.
In his early twenties, Jorge fell in love and married his first wife. The happiest day of his life was when their daughter, Evangelina, was born. Over time, the marriage began to fall apart. While Jorge was separated from his wife, he discovered that she was refusing to let Evangelina go to school and forcing her to work. Appalled, he went to court and fought to protect his daughter. In response, the court granted Jorge full custody of Evangelina along with a divorce.
That year, Jorge and his children moved to the Bay Area. Jorge found work as a handyman in the city and began building a community through a church in San Francisco. At that church, he met and fell in love with a woman named Dolores. Like Jorge, Dolores was born in Central America and immigrated to the States due to violence in her hometown. Since then, she and her two children had become US citizens. After a year of dating, Jorge and Dolores decided to get married.
Desiring to support their merged family, Jorge encouraged all three of their children to attend trauma therapy and family counseling so that they could heal together. Two years later, Jorge and Dolores can already see huge improvements in their children’s well-being.
Jorge has big dreams for his children. He wants them to be able to go to college and to feel that their father belongs to their country. However, in order to find steady work and save for his kids’ education, he needs to obtain a green card. Despite their fears that seeking help could lead to Jorge’s removal, he and Dolores decided to seek legal help to apply for a spousal visa.
One year ago, Jorge visited Open Door Legal’s immigration attorney to begin the process of applying for a visa. After much work, Jorge’s case is in the last stage of the investigative process to be eligible for a spousal visa. Through a program formed under the Obama Administration, Jorge should be able to apply for a temporary permit which would allow him to return to Honduras for 2 to 3 months to complete the visa application process. Unfortunately, changes in current administration may lead to a dismantling of this program, thereby requiring Jorge to return to Honduras for 3 to 7 years before he could secure a spousal visa.
You can support Jorge’s family through this tense process by sponsoring his legal fees. Will you join us as we seek to do everything we can to ensure that Jorge’s family continues to flourish during his immigration battle?
*The names, picture, and some of the locations mentioned above have been altered in order to protect the identity of our client and his family.