Yesterday, the week ended on an incredibly emotional high note...
Last week I wrote a blog post, The Right to Survive: LGBTQ Immigration, about LGBTQ immigration and the experience which inspired me to write the post.
Several weeks ago, an attorney contacted Borderland Rainbow Center and was seeking help for his client. His client is a young gay man seeking asylum, and was being held in a detention center awaiting his hearing. This attorney wanted BRC to asses the young man and provide validity to his claim that he is gay in order to strengthen his asylum case. This task was assigned to me at BRC. As I am not a fluent Spanish-speaker, I talked to my colleague Victoria about tackling this with me, and she agreed. Together we created a set of interview questions, and a little over a week later, we had our meeting. The meeting was probably in the top 5 most difficult things I have ever done emotionally and mentally. We processed the events with our team, and created a report which I then provided to the attorney. We didn't know what was going to happen. We knew that his chances of being granted asylum were incredibly slim. Because he wasn't living "out" as a gay man in his country of origin out of fear, he hadn't experienced direct violence or persecution because of his sexuality, although he was living in constant fear and the LGBTQ population is highly victimized in his country of origin. This is not a strong argument for asylum. We've spent weeks expecting the worst, but yesterday we got the best news:
He was granted asylum.
Yesterday was full of tears of happiness and relief. One young man no longer has to face the ominous inevitability of being forced to return to a nightmare. No longer will he be held in a prison in an orange jumpsuit. No longer will he be held in a prison of forced false identity.
He is free.
I sincerely hope we see him walk through the doors at BRC. A big hug, a lot of love, and a community, will be waiting to embrace him.
This is social work.