“I felt true happiness. I suddenly felt calm. It was a moment full of hope and I said thank you, God,” recalls our client Jared* (pictured on the left) regarding the moment the immigration judge granted him relief from deportation, affirming that he could legally stay and work in the U.S.
Jared no longer had to fear being forcibly returned to his home country of Colombia, where he and his partner had been held at knife and gunpoint and had repeatedly endured discrimination, harassment, abuse, and threats even at the hands of the police, due to their LGBTQIA+ identity and their desire to live openly as a couple. They saw no option but to leave Colombia in search of safety and the freedom to be themselves.
They journeyed north together, but upon arriving to the U.S., Jared was detained and separated from his partner. In detention, he noticed a Florence Project flyer and called the hotline run by our Detention Action & Response Team (DART), which swiftly connected with Jared, providing legal orientation and reading material about the legal process that he could begin to study.
Jared felt empowered by our “pro se plus” guidance. Through our assistance, he learned about the relief he could qualify for, what to expect in his legal proceedings, and how to effectively present his case to the judge.
The “pro se plus” model is a form of legal assistance where we empower clients to represent themselves effectively in court. With our pro se plus clients, DART assists in gathering vital information and evidence to bolster their case, offers translation services, and provides legal resources. We also visited Jared in detention to prepare him for his court hearings.
After enduring almost six months in ICE detention, locked up and away from his partner, Jared faced his final court hearing. Now with the support of his legal team, Jared felt prepared. Finally, the moment he had longed for arrived in March when the judge granted him protection from deportation.
Today, Jared lives in Atlanta, works for a roofing company, and recently got engaged to his partner! They can finally express their love freely and plan for their wedding without fear. 💗
Congratulations, Jared! 🎉