One Immigrant’s Story: Omar

Omar* lived in a small town in Mexico. Life there was far from idyllic; it was full of fear. Neighborhood gangs battled for control, making danger and violence a part of everyday life.

Omar, not yet 20 years old, was in grave danger because he refused to join one of the violent gangs. He lived in poverty and largely alone.

Residents of the town were subject to daily violence and extortion. Gang members blockaded streets and demanded money and other things from anyone who wanted to pass.

Omar’s mother lived in the United States but, because she was undocumented, she had no way to bring Omar to live with her. She worried every day about Omar’s safety and felt hopeless about his future in Mexico.

That all changed one day after Omar’s mother met with Justice for Our Neighbors. At that meeting, she learned that she had a way to become documented and bring Omar to the United States. She knew that it would take a long time but, finally, there was some hope that Omar could escape the violence and poverty of their hometown in Mexico. Because Omar’s mother earned less than 200% of the federal poverty guidelines, she and Omar qualified for TNJFON’s services. TNJFON was able to represent them at no charge.  

Even though they did not have to pay attorneys’ fees, their process was lengthy and complicated. To provide the information necessary for TNJFON to prepare his application, Omar had  to travel to an internet cafe many times. Omar’s mother worried for his safety every time he ventured outside in order to communicate with us.

After months of work and waiting, Omar and his mother finally received the good news. Omar received permission to come to the United States to live with his mother and sister. They are now reunited, and Omar is starting a new life in the United States.

*Names and some details of the case have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the client.

Adrienne Kittos is TNJON’s founding Legal Director and the Tennessee Bar Association’s Ashley Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of the Year.

Alyssa Curran