Triumph in case of immigrant child detained at the border

I have excellent news about the case of a minor I have been representing in Immigration Court and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

After four years of hard work, paperwork and presentations at federal government offices, yesterday we won a great victory for Domingo Lopez.

USCIS finally granted him permanent residency through Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.

Nelson A. Castillo and Domingo López
Attorney Nelson A. Castillo celebrates with Domingo Lopez after the USCIS granted the teenager permanent residency.

When I met him, and began representing him in 2011, Domingo was a 16-year-old teenager who had risked his life to reach the United States, escaping poverty and abuse in his native Guatemala.

Upon arriving here, he, like so many other immigrant children, was detained at the border.

After leaving the juvenile detention center in Texas, he was reunited with a brother in Los Angeles and they sought legal counsel. That's how they came to the organization Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), which provides free legal assistance to immigrant children.

Since I am a volunteer attorney for KIND, I was assigned the case.

Domingo was afraid of being deported to the country where he had suffered so much - where from the age of 12 he had to fend for himself and fend for himself on the streets of Guatemala selling food and using what little money he had to survive.

With the help of attorney Victoria J. Ianni, we first got a California state court to issue an order protecting Domingo from being returned to Guatemala because he had suffered abandonment, neglect or abuse by one or both of his parents.

We then filed applications with the USCIS for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.

Thanks to the collective effort of my work, that of attorney Ianni, KIND and USCIS, which approved and granted his permanent residency, Domingo will be able to start a new life in the United States.

Domingo is working now, but his dream is to be able to go to college when he has the money to do so. I am sure he will achieve his goal. From the bottom of my heart, I wish him the best of luck.

Like him, there are thousands of other children who have recently arrived in the U.S. who may be eligible for this type of visa. It is important that they seek legal counsel with non-profit organizations or private attorneys to analyze the cases and seek the best avenue to protect these children.