A victim of profound domestic violence, Gloria Torres escaped Honduras seeking asylum in the US. After years of abuse at the hands of her ex-partner, from beatings to burns inflicted on her stomach, Ms. Torres was desperate enough she left without her children, taking nothing with her but a prayer that she would one day be reunited with them.
Ms. Torres made it to the US-Mexican border, where she was apprehended and transferred to an immigration detention center near Dallas, Texas. That was when her family contacted our lawyers, asking for help with her case.
Our lawyers knew that we could fight for asylum based on domestic abuse, although the burden for proof was particularly high. Asylum pleas in domestic violence cases require not only proof of the abuse itself, but also airtight evidence that the person was unable to receive adequate protection from the local authorities. Ms. Torres, to her credit, had filed multiple police reports in Honduras, protection, dating as far back as 2003.
It was up to our lawyers to show that the Honduran police and government officials were unable to provide Ms. Torres the long-term protection she would have needed.
Our team amassed hundreds of pages of evidence, ranging from human rights reports, to scholarly research, to news articles that illustrated the inefficacy of Honduran police and the prevailing culture of machismo that allowed for domestic violence. We also reached out to several relatives in Honduras to obtain sworn affidavits supporting Ms.Torres’ claims of abuse.
Then, the case was almost upended by Ms. Torres herself.
Due to years of abuse and repeated head trauma, Ms. Torres had incredible difficulty communicating with the court officials. The immigration judge stopped proceedings and ordered a special hearing to evaluate her competence to move forward.
«It takes extraordinary patience to work with clients who have difficulty communicating,» Explained Vinesh Patel, the head lawyer on Ms. Torres’ case. «The judge just had to determine that as her attorneys we would provide an adequate safeguard for her rights.»
Thankfully, the judge ruled that our team’s legal representation would provide Ms. Torres adequate safeguards during the proceedings, and we were able to continue on to the final hearing.
After a hard-fought courtroom battle, the results of the case were given. Ms. Torres was granted asylum and allowed to remain permanently in the United States.
Our lawyers were elated, but that didn’t signal the end of her trials. Ms. Torres still needed to be reunited with her children.
«For [Ms. Torres], bringing her children over most likely meant saving their lives from violence in their home country,» remembers Ms. Patel. » That life-or-death situation isn’t something you can say about every case, but in this one there was more at stake than simply allowing Ms. Torres to see her young kids again.»
We immediately filed I-730 applications and assisted her children in applying for visas through the US consulate in Honduras. One by one, they were granted visas and able to be reunited with their mother on US soil.
Currently, we’re helping the family obtain permanent residency in the United States. In the future, they should all be able to become U.S. citizens.