b'A BETTER WAY FORWARDFOR A YOUNG IMMIGRANTTo escape death threats, Lara fled Honduras atwho promised to lead her to the United States but 15 to join her grandmother in Boston, where sheinstead forced her into prostitution in a Mexican hoped to build a safe life for herself and to workbrothel. Lara escaped and persisted in makingThe Mintz team to support Maria, a daughter whom she hadher way to the border.very reluctantly left behind. Partnering with KidsBased on Laras history, Marguerite helped herhas struck a perfect in Need of Defense (KIND), Mintz representedapply to receive US Special Immigrant Juvenilebalancebetween Lara as she made her way through the complex(SIJ) status, which is granted to youths under 21 US immigration system. care for our highly who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected AttorneyMargueriteMcConihetooktheleadby a parent. Within a few months, Laras statusvulnerable clients in her representation, under the guidance andwas approved. socioemotional leadership of attorney Alec Zadek and with theIt was almost a year later, in a meeting with aneeds and the help of former legal assistant Greer Clem, formercaseworker, that Lara revealed that along with projectanalystMorganSandhu,andattorneyexperiencing so many other hardships, she hadlegal demands of Joanna LeRoy. Over a two-year period, the teamreceived death threats in Honduras. In additionthe case. From not only helped Lara obtain legal immigrationto being threatened repeatedly by her stepfather, statusforherselfandMaria,buthelpedLaramaking meeting get settled in Boston. When Laras social workerwho said he would kill her if she told anyone hed abused her, Lara was at imminent risk of beingspaces welcoming neededassistanceobtainingservicesforher,killedbygangmembers.Herex-boyfriend, for example, Alec helped coordinate resourcesand comfortable across several agencies. whod joined the gang, was dating a high-rankingfor the client to gang member, and the woman threatened to kill Inthefallof2016,ininitialmeetingswithLara and Maria if she ever saw them again. Thatdistilling difficult Marguerite and Greer, Lara shared only bits andthreatprecipitatedLarasdifficultdecisiontolegal concepts, they pieces of her traumatic childhood in Honduras:leave Maria in hiding with her mother and flee to near-dailysexualabusebyherstepfather,America. Once she was safe in the United States,have implemented beginning when Lara was 6; attempted suicide;however, Lara continued to fear that the ganga holistic strategy life on the streets as a runaway; abduction, atwould find and kill Maria.10, by a pedophile who kept her as a sex slave;of support that has escape from the pedophile and a reluctant returnAfter hearing this story, the caseworker urged Larawhohadntrealizeditwasimportanttotruly changed the home,becauseLarahadnowhereelsetogo;her immigration caseto share it with her legalclients life in ways and a relationship with an older boy, beginningteam.TheMintzattorneysquicklyrecognized whenLarawas12,thatledtoMariasbirth,that the credible threats against Laras life couldfar beyond just legal when Lara was 14. Because Lara is Garifunaanbe a basis for obtaining asylum status, and beganrepresentation.ethnic minority that the Honduran governmentLarasapplicationprocess.UnlikeSIJstatus, openlydiscriminatesagainstshecouldneverwhich provides no benefits for an immigrantsJASIEL FERNANDEZ callthepoliceforhelp.Infact,becauseherfamilymembers,asylumwouldallowLaratoDeputy Director stepfatheriswhitemeaningnotofAfricanof Social Servicesdescentreporting him would have put Lara inbring Maria to the United States.Kids in Need of Defense greater danger. TocompleteLarasasylumapplication,(KIND) Lara also disclosed that while on her 3,600-mileMorgan and Greer gathered affidavits from her journey to Boston, she was trafficked by a manpsychologist and social worker as well as birth PERSPECTIVES // Mintz Pro Bono Journal 11'