Martina* Wants to Stay in the United States

Maria migrated to the US to escape death threats by gangs. When she arrived in San Francisco, she endured years of verbal and sexual abuse by her employer. Now, we’re helping her obtain a U-visa so she doesn’t have to be separated from her American-born children.

5 years ago, Martina fled Guatemala in the dead of night. The gangs had threatened to kill her and her siblings. Even taking the bus was dangerous. The future seemed dark; she felt like the only way to safety was by taking the perilous journey across Mexico and into the United States. That night, she made her choice.

A few months later, Martina arrived in San Francisco. An old friend secured a job as a dishwasher for her at a restaurant in the city. Martina was overjoyed. Wasn’t this how good things began in the United States? With a tough work ethic, she felt sure that she would work her way up to a chef position in no time. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out the way she expected.

Martina’s boss was abusive. He took advantage of the fact that she and her coworkers didn’t have access to attorneys to take advantage of her and continually violate her rights. She was frequently assaulted, verbally and sexually, behind closed doors. And she wasn’t alone: she saw firsthand how other immigrant coworkers were treated. Yet no one felt like they could do anything about it.

Years passed. Martina married and had two kids. Her experience at work remained the same. Then, one day, Martina heard something on the radio: The Violence Against Women Act. Could this be her ticket to safety?

Martina needed to learn more. That’s when she found Open Door Legal. Our Employment and Immigration Law team explained to Martina that she may qualify for a U-Visa. U-Visas are granted to immigrants who help US law enforcement by acting as whistleblowers on crimes experienced in the workplace or elsewhere. The United States benefits by encouraging victims to come forward and aiding in the prosecution of serious crimes. Martina would need to go through a two-step process: apply to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for having experienced workplace crime, and then apply to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services for a U-Visa. Our team promised that if she chose to apply, we would help her every step of the way.

Martina weighed her options again. Putting her name out there was a terrifying proposition. However, the United States was now her home. She had lived here for over a decade. Her children belonged here. Her dreams belonged here. She didn’t want to be caught up in an immigration sweep and separated from her family. That’s when Martina made her decision.

Open Door Legal is keeping our promise to Martina. We are now in the first stage of the two-step process for applying for Martina’s U-Visa. Will you join us as a cheerleader for this brave woman and community builder? Show your support by sponsoring her legal fees today.


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