The Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP)’s client Luna fled to the United States after her siblings were murdered and she received death threats. Rather than welcome her, the U.S. government detained Luna and her 3-year-old daughter in a series of immigration detention centers.
Luna was released from detention with an ankle monitor, and began the difficult search for an immigration attorney. A friend recommended a local pastor who said he would take Luna’s case. But this pastor – who told her he was an attorney and charged her thousands of dollars – wasn’t an attorney at all. He convinced her to trust him, and told her not to go to her hearing in immigration court. Because she believed him, she received a deportation order without ever having the chance to apply for asylum. She was devastated. She could not understand what went wrong.
For Luna, ASAP’s private online community was a lifeline. After she received the deportation order, she reached out to a friend she had met in a detention center. Her friend told her to join our online community, where we could answer her questions. Luna did, and we found out she had a deportation order through no fault of her own.
ASAP was able to represent Luna’s family remotely, working with her by phone and WhatsApp to prepare her case. A team of volunteers pitched in to collect evidence and draft parts of her case. This May, ASAP reversed her deportation order, giving Luna peace of mind that her family could no longer be picked up in raids.
Last week, Luna attended a hearing in immigration court, this time with a high-quality attorney. After her hearing, she posted the good news to the online community, telling others in the group: “If you have been a victim of fraud and received a deportation order, seek help.”