What is life changing legal help?
Read about a Marin resident, Ana, and how having a legal ally left her feeling fearless and empowered.
“Ana” lived with her mother, father, and baby brother in El Salvador until the young age of three, when she was sent to live with her grandparents. Her parents had left for the United States in hopes of a better life and plans to have Ana and her baby brother join them when the time was right. For four years, Ana lived without her younger brother- who was sent to live with other relatives- and thousands of miles away from her parents.
But then, at the age of seven years old, Ana and her brother received the opportunity to finally join her parents in the United States.
By the time Ana had entered high schools, the effect of her mother’s mental health issues and the severity of her father's substance abuse lead the parents to divorce, with both children living at their mother house. For many years, the instability of both households caused Ana to constantly move from one home to another with attending school and supporting herself financially as her parents could not.
Fortunately, finding a stable job became possible due to Ana's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) eligibility. When it became to renew her work permit and DACA status, however, she ran into a problem. Ana's DACA status and ability to get a valid work permit became uncertain. This is when she came to the Marin Pro Bono Network.
Canal Alliance took on the case holistically. They learned that her brother had been a victim of a serious crime which allowed them to file a U visa petition. This petition, applicable to all direct relatives, allowed Ana and her mother to qualify for direct pathways to permanent residency and, ultimately, naturalization. Because of Canal Alliance's commitment to Ana's case and well being, they were able to secure not simply a renewal - - which Ana originally came for- but instead long term comfort and security that they are safe and able to provide for themselves and their family.
Through her interaction with the Marin Pro Bono Network, Ana learned about our work in protecting the rights and well being of immigrants and became inspired by Canal Alliance's work with immigrant youth. She now volunteers with their Development department while attending College of Marin. She has expressed a desire to one day return as a full-time employee in hopes of working with adolescents in Marin.
Despite all odds and an unstable family situation, legal aid and our work in Marin allowed Ana to persevere, proving that she is resilient and capable of anything.