b'A BETTER WAY FORWARDFOR A YOUNG IMMIGRANT(continued)recordsforLara,Maria,andLarasmother.InUSCustomsandBorderProtectionaskedus addition,theyputtogetheracountryreport,forbiometricdataMariasfingerprintsbut which confirmed that the Honduran governmentsince we didnt have Maria with us, we couldnt is openly hostile toward the Garifunaregularlyprovide it, Joanna said. When she tried to contact confiscatingGarifunalandandrefusingtothedetentioncenterforhelp,Mariason-site, prosecute crimes against them. government-affiliatedcasemanagerwouldnt In her asylum interview, Lara, then 16, handledanswer her calls. herself well under pressure.She answered theMeanwhile, Massachusetts state authorities were officersquestionsthoroughly,evenwhentheyrefusing to sign off on Marias release until Lara pertainedtotraumaticeventsirrelevanttohermet certain criteria. The Mintz team worked with application. The officer asked many questions, inthe state agencies until all holds on the case were particular, about the deepest horror in Laras life:cleared. Then the team immediately followed up her time with the pedophile who held her captive,to press Customs until they released Maria. The abused her, and regularly beat her with pots andthree year old had spent more than three months pans. The asylum officer used her testimony onalone in the Texas detention facility. Without our that experience as a barometer to judge if she wasadvocacy, she would certainly still be detained, tellingthetruth,Margueritesaid.TheofficerMarguerite said. believed Lara, and in the summer of 2018, she wasSince Maria arrived in Boston, the Mintz team has granted asylum.been working to get her asylum, piggy-backing Mintz attorney Joanna LeRoy joined Laras legalon her mothers status. With Maria in her care, team to help bring three-year-old Maria to Boston.Larahasmuchgreaterpeaceofmind.Sheis The girl traveled with her grandmother, but shenearly fluent in English, has a work permit, and is was separated from her at the border. For a while,thrilled to be earning a living.Maria was lost in the system, and the Mintz teamLaraiseffervescent,alight,Margueritesaid. aggressively focussed on finding her. We didntFrom this client, Ive learned there are special know where she was for several weeks, Joannachildrenwho,despitelivingthroughhorrific said. It was shocking that our government wouldexperiences,remaintruetotheirkind,loving, allow a young child to be separated from familyoptimistic core.and then lost.When Maria was located, Joanna shifted her focus to moving her to Boston so she could reunite with Lara. That process was extremely disorganized, sincethevariousgovernment-relatedentities handlingMariascasewerentsharingtheir records or coordinating their services.12 2019'