Marta* was 15 years old and did not speak a word of English when she first came to Legal Aid. She suffered severe daily physical abuse from family members in Guatemala. She worked and saved money so that she could escape. Finally, one day after her father beat her severely, she left and began her journey to the U.S., all on her own and without paying a smuggler.
When she first came to Legal Aid, Marta had a hard time speaking about the abuse she suffered but was willing to write about it instead. She wrote 5 pages detailing the abuse and repeatedly emphasized that she “cannot go back.” Our attorney filed an asylum application for Marta, sent her for a psychological evaluation, and represented her in Immigration Court and at the Asylum Office.
At every court hearing or Legal Aid appointment, Marta had self-help books, all in English. Marta spends hours at the library and saves her money to buy books from a used bookstore. When Marta learned that she had been granted asylum, her immediate reply was, “Now I can go to college.” She is now a senior in high school, makes all As and Bs, and plans to fulfill her dream of going to college and becoming a doctor.
*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of our clients.