Stories of Solidarity: #JoinTogether with Refugees and Migrants
Many of the migrants who seek asylum in the US are unaccompanied minor children fleeing from violence in their home countries (particularly from the Northern Triangle of Central America in recent years). Children as young as five are expected to argue their own cases to judges.
In America Solidaria, we work to secure the well-being of the most vulnerable and excluded people in the Americas. We mobilize professional fellows who use their knowledge and experience to serve people who would otherwise have difficulty accessing legal and social resources.
Pablo Mattos, an America Solidaria fellow from Brazil, helped child migrants seek asylum at the border in Texas.
“It is both a great honor and a challenge to serve at Bernardo Kohler Center as an America Solidaria fellow. Being an immigrant myself, each achievement for the program’s beneficiaries is also a personal victory. Finally, it is an incredible joy to contribute to transform the American continent in a more just and fair place.” Pablo Mattos, Lawyer
Pablo shared the following story from an adolescent girl: “My name is “Carolina”; I’m 14 years old and was born in Honduras. My parents couldn’t find jobs in my home country, so they came to the USA and left me and my brother with my grandmother. When my brother didn’t agree to work for drug dealers in Honduras, they started to violently harass us. They got me once- I cannot remember exactly what happened that night, but I woke up full of bruises and with a lot of pain in my legs. After that, me and my brother decided to join our parents in the USA. We crossed Mexico and were kidnapped by smugglers, but the Mexican police released us from their captivity. Now I’m living in Texas with my parents. In Honduras, I had to hide from gang members. In the USA, I will need to hide from the government, because they might send me back and I can’t bear that.”
For Pablo, the most heartbreaking part of working with Carolina was that, after all of her struggles to keep herself safe and make it all the way to the US, soliciting legal asylum, she would most likely lose her case and be deported.
Niza Castañeda, an America Solidaria fellow from Mexico, helped migrants who had suffered human rights violations seek asylum in the U.S.
“It is very important to be able to contribute to the respect of migrant rights, especially in this region of the world where a humanitarian crisis of exorbitant dimensions exists. Thanks to my volunteering withAmérica Solidaria, serving with Ayuda, I have learned to be as empathetic as I am efficient. It is not enough to listen to the sufferings and worries of our migrant clients; the most important thing is to find a judicial solution for them. I cannot describe how marvelous it is when we receive positive news from them.” Niza Castañeda, Lawyer, Monterrey, MX
Some of Niza’s pro-bono clients were so small, their feet didn’t reach the floor from the courtroom bench. They were too young to have learned how to read or write, but they were expected to advocate for themselves in the US court system. Niza prepared them to answer complex legal questions during asylum hearings. Far from posing a threat to the US, these were children who had faced unbelievable hardships and violence during their short lives.
We want to join our voices with the UN in signaling the important contributions that refugees and migrants make in the communities that receive them, and the challenges that they face in attempting to legally enter the US. #JoinTogether