By Kayleen Hartman, Immigration Staff Attorney
Jose left El Salvador in 1986 during the civil war after a few of his friends were murdered. He moved to the United States – initially sleeping on the streets – but over time, building a new life. Jose worked hard, got married and settled into the community.
Last year, the woman who cared for Jose’s elderly mother back in El Salvador called Jose. She didn’t know where else to turn.
Her 16-year-old son, William, had fled gang violence in El Salvador and was in immigration detention in the United States. The authorities would release William, but only if he had an official custodian with whom he could live.
“We had never had children of our own,” Jose reflected. “I was afraid of bringing a child into a world full of violence.” Having only seen pictures of William, and barely knowing William’s mother, Jose agreed to care for him as if he were his own child. “I understand violence. I know what it feels like to think that no one can help you – that no one will help you,” he said.
An Ayuda immigration attorney sprang into gear, helping Jose and William to work out all of the legal details. In May, William was granted “Special Immigrant Juvenile Status” and has begun the process of applying for legal permanent residence.
“I tell William that this is a country of opportunity. If you work hard and behave, you can succeed,” Jose said. “William is doing great. He is doing well in school and making friends. He even helps out around the house. He is just a good kid.”