Spanish-Speaking Attorneys Help Domestic Violence Survivor Feel Safe After Distressing Experience

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Isabel Ramirez Blancas, a survivor of domestic violence, says she’s grateful for Legal Aid’s help securing her residency status. “Now I’m not afraid to walk down the street to the park with my son,” she said.

Isabel Ramirez Blancas left her home in Mexico for a new life in the United States, where she thought her U.S. citizen husband would petition for her residency status. But instead, he gave her a false ID card and forced her to work.

Compounding her disappointment, Ms. Ramirez suffered domestic violence at home. She never reported her situation because she was afraid to go to the police. Instead, Ms. Ramirez endured her husband’s abuse until the day she came home to find he had taken his own life.

With no husband, no income to support the couple’s young son, no documented status, and little English language ability, Ms. Ramirez was emotionally distraught. Her provider at MetroHealth’s McCafferty Clinic referred her to Legal Aid, where she met a Spanish-speaking staff attorney.

“I was very happy to come across a lawyer that spoke Spanish,” Ms. Ramirez said. “It made me feel I could trust her and the organization to do good work on my behalf.”

The Legal Aid attorney found that Ms. Ramirez was eligible to self-petition for legal permanent residency under the Violence Against Women Act, and helped her begin the process.

Immigration cases often span many years, and Ms. Ramirez’s was no exception. Initially, the petition was denied in 2013 because her abuser was no longer living, but Legal Aid helped her appeal the decision. After the appeal was granted on the self-petition, Legal Aid attorney Agustin Ponce de León filed for Ms. Ramirez’s adjustment of status and work authorization.

Three years after Ms. Ramirez first filed, the government approved all her petitions, giving her lawful permanent residency and work authorization. Mr. Ponce de León personally delivered her green card to her door.

As for Ms. Ramirez, she is working on her English via a course, and she and her son are setting down roots in the only hometown her son has ever known.

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