Surviving Violent Crime and Obtaining the Right to Work

Beatriz came to the U.S. from Guatemala in early 2007. She worked hard to support herself at a local restaurant in northern Virginia. While there, she met Jose, a frequent patron of the restaurant. They dated briefly. During that time, Jose went to the restaurant where Beatriz worked every night to keep an eye on her. He exhibited increasingly jealous behavior, soon controlling how she interacted with other patrons. When it seemed that jealousy had turned into obsession, Beatriz knew it was time to end the relationship.

Late one night in February 2011, while Beatriz was leaving the restaurant, Jose appeared and dragged her into his car. Despite her pleas to be let go, Jose told her that he loved her very much and insisted that she belonged to him. Jose sexually assaulted her and kept Beatriz captive for a day. Beatriz was able to escape with the help of a friend who had seen what had happened the previous night. Jose was arrested, and Beatriz cooperated with authorities in his prosecution.

Beatriz came to Just Neighbors in August 2011 upon the recommendation of a court advocate. Just Neighbors worked with Beatriz for several months in gathering the evidence needed to file a U visa application. Just Neighbors staff and volunteers were careful to handle the case with a great deal of sensitivity.

In June 2013, we received a U visa approval notice for Beatriz. Her reaction was priceless: she was beaming when she came to the office to pick up her new work permit. Although the circumstances surrounding her ability to obtain this status were grim, Beatriz has acquired newfound hope, and the ability to build a better future for herself.

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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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