b'A SEX TRAFFICKING SURVIVOR GETS HELP TO MOVE ON Gabriela was struggling to survive on her own inhoped, she again made her way to San Diego. The San Diego when a new friend suggested she shouldtraffickers eventually located her, but by that timeI was Melissas applyforajobwithacompanythatprovidedGabriela was living with a boyfriend, and although housekeeping services. When Gabriela went to thethe traffickers harassed them, they never again laidcase mentor while would-be employers address to say shed like a joba hand on Gabriela. Gabriela applied for asylum,working on thecleaning homes, the woman who greeted her wasand with a pending asylum application, she was encouragingandcordial.Gabrielaacceptedherable to look for work.T1 visa application offer of a nonalcoholic drinkwhich she laterIn 2017, Mintz attorney Melissa Brayman receivedand she was realized was laced with drugsand handed all ofanemailfromCasaCornelia,anorganizationwonderful. Melissa her identification papers over so the woman couldworking with immigrants in Southern California, verify her eligibility for employment. Instead, thelisting several immigrants in need of legal support,clearly cared very woman locked her in an apartment and forced herincludingGabriela.AlthoughGabrielahadamuch about the into sex work. pending asylum application, the organization alsoclient, what this Growing up in a small village in Mexico, wherewanted to explore the possibility of securing a T1 transgender people arent well accepted, Gabrielavisa, an immigration option for victims of humanapplication meant experienced physical abuse at the hands of familytrafficking. Melissa was moved by Gabrielas lifefor her, and the members and discrimination in school and in hercircumstances to request approval to assist with the community. On multiple occasions, Mexican policeclients T1 visa and work authorization application.challenges she arrested her for dressing like a woman, but insteadSecuringavisaandworkpermitcanbelife- was facing. She of taking her to jail, they brutally beat and rapedchanging for immigrants, Melissa said. It soundedwas diligent and her. With nowhere to turn for help, Gabriela madelike Gabriela had had an incredibly difficult time, her way to the US border and then to San Diego.and as a member of the firms Mintz Pride group, Iattentive to the Withoutofficialdocumentation,Gabrielawaswas interested in the LGBT aspect of her case. clients needs unabletolookforwork.ItwasntlongbeforeTheT1visaapplicationrequiredadeclarationand cognizant Gabrielawalkedintothesextraffickerstrapdescribing Gabrielas plight as well as a cover letter and a seven-year nightmare. Together with severalof the complex, other transgender women, Gabriela was confinedestablishing how she fulfilled all of the visas legal requirements. Through many in-person meetings,overlapping nature to an apartment where her jailors kept her and theMelissaestablishedarapportwithGabrielaandof the trafficking other women dependent on drugs and beat them tolearnedwhatshedbeenthrough.Inordernot keep them in fear. Many of the traffickers clientstooverwhelmher,Iwouldswitchfromdifficultand asylum cases.also beat the women.questionstotopicsthatwerelessemotional, EVELYN A. LOPEZEventually, however, Gabriela found the courage toMelissasaid.FormerMintzattorneyYarazelAssociate Attorneytell a client that she was being held against her will.Mejorado,fluentinSpanish,oftenservedasCasa Cornelia Law CenterHe helped her jump out of a window, drove her outinterpreter for Gabriela, who felt more confident of the area, and gave her $20. With nowhere to goexpressing herself in Spanish than in English.homeless and fearing the sex traffickers wouldIn Gabrielas declaration, I focused a bit on the find herGabriela returned to Mexico. When herdeplorable treatment of LGBT people in Mexico, reunion with family members didnt go as shedand specifically on the harassment and beatings TRANSCENDING // Mintz Pro Bono Journal 31'