A Mother’s Strength

Marisol came to the United States from Guatemala in 1997. Back then, there was a rise in poverty and crime in her village. She saw neighbors who were mugged in the street.  Teachers were often assaulted just for having stable jobs, and, as a teacher, she feared for her life. She chose to leave Guatemala, hoping for a better life in the United States.

Marisol has been in the United States for 21 years now and has an 11-year-old son Max, who she says is her “entire world.” Max is the reason Marisol found Just Neighbors. Max has ADHD, and, a few years ago, Marisol was referred to a family services social worker to help her find resources to help Max. When the social worker met Marisol’s husband and son, she noticed that Max has bruises on his body and saw signs that Marisol was being abused as well.

When Marisol and the social worker finally got a chance to be alone, Marisol confirmed that she and Max were being abused by her husband. He controlled every aspect of their lives and was physically abusive toward both. At the time, Marisol didn’t have a cell phone of her own and had to go through her husband to communicate with anyone. The social worker gave Marisol the number to Just Neighbors, and she found a way to call and ask for help.

Just Neighbors took on Marisol’s case, helping her go through the U-Visa application process. Marisol needed several documents as evidence for her case including proof of her restraining order against her husband. When she was getting this documentation, the official she talked to told her she could receive assistance from the county to go back to Guatemala. She thought about that offer for a long time but realized that she could not care for her son who has ADHD and other health complications as well in Guatemala. She knew she needed to keep pushing forward with her case because her son needed to live here, the country where he was born, the only country he had ever known, and the only country where she could access the medical and educational resources he needs to thrive.

Marisol kept pushing through and found all of the evidence she needed for her case. Once her U-Visa application was approved, she received her green card. After experiencing so much trauma, Marisol had finally gotten the documentation she needed to help build a new life for herself and her son.

“Just Neighbors was able to help me escape domestic violence.” – Marisol

Now Marisol’s biggest wish has come true. She just became a United States citizen. Through the immigration legal services provided by Just Neighbors, Marisol and Max will now be able to live without violence. Marisol is excited to be a new American and hopes to find a new job and work on achieving her own American Dream.

“Just Neighbors helped me come out of the darkness, they gave me a path when I was lost.” – Marisol

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The mission of Just Neighbors is to provide immigration legal services to low-income immigrants and refugees in Virginia, especially those who are most vulnerable. We also seek to foster enriching experiences that enhance awareness and mutual understanding among our clients, volunteers, staff and community.

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