“Thank You for your work at Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC). You save many.” The words of Judge Bryant to Tanishka Cruz, Legal Aid Justice Center’s Immigrant Advocacy attorney, rang true for Bessy, Yanci and Karla who are undocumented immigrant children at risk of deportation. Yesterday, Legal Aid Justice Center launched the Donors To Court Project, a day where our supporters can eat lunch with our clients, serve a moral support to the families in court, hear their stories, and debrief the experience.
Over a very emotionally filled intimate and powerful lunch, Yanci spoke candidly about the aggressive harassment of a young gang member in the community who stalked her every day and threatened to kill her if she would not join a gang and be his girlfriend. Bessy and Karla told the story of being abandoned by their mother in Honduras, mourning the loss of their grandparents, and the fear of rape, robbery or death as the reasons they escaped to the states to live with their father.
Immediately following lunch we walked over to the court which was overflowing with children and families with a look of pure desperation and the fear of deportation on their faces. It was quite evident the difference having an attorney meant for our clients. The girls felt secure and happy going into their hearings, as compared to the youth who appeared before the judge unrepresented. They were all giggles and smiles on the ride home illustrating what an uplifting event this was for them too. Yanci shared with our team that she has always dreamed of becoming an attorney when she grows up, but now actually believes that it’s a possibility!
The resilience of these young women was truly inspiring. Our supporters were able to put a face to the stories and understand the devastating reality of many undocumented immigrants, especially children, in our country. Thank you for investing in the wellbeing of families and restoring hope and possibility in so many lives.