What is your background, where did you come from?
I was born and raised in Long Beach. My parents migrated here from Mexico, which is why immigration law interests me. I have family members who are undocumented, so it’s really a personal thing for me to be here and learn more about that process. I understand the struggles that the undocumented community goes through, the type of labor they have to resort to because they can’t get a more permanent job. It’s tough for anyone, and I can only imagine how it must be for a child.
What do you do at Esperanza?
I work in the Legal Orientation Program for Custodians, which provides education for unaccompanied minors and their guardians in the US. They come into court for their first hearing, and afterwards we interview the child and determine whether they qualify for a type of relief. We try to see if they can be placed with a pro bono attorney who will take their case for free, but if not we refer them to other attorneys who would be able to help. There’s a lot of people trying to take advantage of these kids’ situations, so I think it’s great that Esperanza has a list of attorneys that they’ve vetted to make sure they will actually help the child
The first time I started interviewing children by myself, I had two really tough interviews back to back. At that point I realized how heartbreaking this whole process is. These kids have gone through so much already, and they’re just kids. No one should have to go through that.
What was the most rewarding part about working with Esperanza?
The most rewarding part of my job overall is just being able to educate. It’s great being able to empower the immigrant community, because that’s really the key. People need to know what their rights are and what their case is about because they’re the ones who have to fight for it