Jedaias grew up in a small village in Guatemala where poverty and hunger were rampant – “there are no jobs, nothing to do there,” he recalls. At 16 he decided he needed to make money to support himself and help his family. He moved to a city and found work in a restaurant – but he also found new, more life-threatening problems. Twice Jedaias was held at gunpoint, at his workplace, before deciding he needed to leave his home country and make the long trek to safety and opportunity in America.
Almost immediately after crossing the border by himself, Jedaias was stopped and put in a detention center. While there, a social worker told him about The Door, a place where he might find some relief.
The Door’s Legal Services Center specializes in providing counsel to undocumented young people who have come to this country alone, fleeing danger, abuse or abandonment. Lately more of those cases are arriving from Central America. Fortunately The Door’s expert legal team secures green cards for 98% of our immigration clients – including, just recently, Jedaias.
Today Jedaias dreams of learning English and becoming an electrician, and he feels very thankful to live without the fear he felt in Guatemala. “Here, in America, I have a job and can pay rent. I feel very happy.”
In the summer of 2014, under a new set of policies, immigration courts in New York State sped up the removal of unaccompanied children from Central America – some of NYC’s most vulnerable youth, who are not guaranteed representation. In response, The Door and several partners provided immediate volunteer staffing of the new daily court dockets, seeing more than 400 clients in the first two months.