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Meet Sandra, Joel, and Sandra our featured clients!

Maycoll-Stephanie-Mendoza Sandra Joel

Sandra, her son Joel, and daughter Sandra demonstrate the drive and strength of so many of the immigrants we are privileged to meet in our work. They have overcome significant obstacles—and dangers—to support each other in the pursuit of their dreams.

Sandra had had a good life as a grocery store owner in her native Honduras. Unfortunately, the early to mid-2000s witnessed the birth of the devastating crime epidemic that plagues Honduras to this day. Rampant gang violence made it impossible for Sandra to earn a living. As a single mother with no outside support, she faced the extremely painful decision faced by too many Central American parents these days: would she remain in Honduras to be close to her children, but watch them struggle through poverty and violence? Or would risk everything, including her life, to come to the US so that she could find a job that would help her to adequately feed, shelter, and educate her children? Although it broke her heart, Sandra came to the US and placed her children with family members.

Although Sandra found work, her troubles were not over once she came to the US. She met a boyfriend who subjected her to extreme domestic violence. Although she left him, he stalked her relentlessly for years, threatening to have Sandra deported or killed. The psychological torment was extreme, and Sandra took great pains to avoid him, relocating and finding new jobs. Ultimately, the man was arrested and Sandra assisted in his prosecution.

As a survivor of crime who reached out to and collaborated with law enforcement, Sandra was able to apply for U nonimmigrant status (“U visa”). This is an important immigration benefit that protects immigrant victims of crime who report criminal activity. Through her U visa, Sandra was able to get work authorization. She began working in La Cocinita food truck, and she has been able to return to her entrepreneurial ways to become a part owner of La Cocinita. La Cocinita serves up delicious Latin flavors throughout New Orleans, and now La Cocinita plans to open a restaurant in Chicago!

Sandra was able to reunite with Joel and Sandra, who are both in school. Sandra just started college, while Joel is working on his nursing degree. It has been a true privilege to work with them and to watch them fight for and live their American Dream. Congratulations Sandra, Joel, and Sandra!

And check out La Cocinita

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