Client Stories

The stories of our clients are amazing! As humans, they have suffered trauma and indignities that no one should have to endure. But because of their inner strength and resiliency, they struggle through the most difficult challenges.

We at JFON-NE are honored to help our clients find safety and a better future in the United States. Click through these stories to learn more about how JFON-NE legal services changes lives. Go to our Get Involved page to learn how you can help.


DACA

DACA Protects Young, Productive Adults & Families

Constanza Was Nearly Deported to a Country that was No Longer Her Own

When Constanza was just 10 years old, extreme poverty and generalized violence drove her family from their home in Mexico. They left everything familiar to immigrate to the U.S.

THE DACA PROGRAM FUELED HER DRIVE TO SUCCEED

The family ended up in Council Bluffs where her parents found low-paying jobs, but a safe, decent life. When Constanza was 18 years old, she applied for a 2-year temporary work permit through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Constanza knew the DACA program was an important opportunity for her future. She became an eager student who wanted to make her parents proud. She received a scholarship to attend a college in Omaha and then married her high school sweetheart. Their daughter was born the following year. There was just one challenge that remained, threatening their family’s future – Costanza’s lack of status to allow her to remain in the U.S. indefinitely.

Before graduation, the young couple came to JFON-NE because they heard Constanza’s husband, a U.S. citizen, could help her obtain lawful status. They soon found that the process for Constanza would not be simple. Even though she was only a child at the time of her entry, because she crossed the border without permission, she didn’t qualify to apply for residency from within the United States. To make matters worse, if Constanza were to leave the country, she also faced a 10-year penalty that would prevent her from returning to the U.S. unless granted a waiver. Constanza was terrified by the possibility of being separated from her family and alone for 10 years in a country she barely remembered.

EDUCATION PROVIDED THE KEY TO RESIDENCY

Fortunately, Constanza qualified for advanced parole, which allowed her to travel outside the U.S. for educational purposes. JFON-NE helped her apply for a travel permit—called advanced parole—for a college class abroad. She was thrilled about the class, which helped her complete a credit requirement for her degree.

After the class ended, Constanza’s legal return to the U.S. on the travel permit also cleared the way for her to apply for residency without having to return to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico or seek a waiver of the ten-year penalty. After about six months, Constanza was approved for lawful permanent residency. Now this young woman has a stable immigration status that allows her to live and work in the United States indefinitely—with her family.

Impact Litigation

Remberto’s Impact Litigation Case Changed Immigration Law

Impact litigation reveals errors in our broken immigration system.

When Remberto’s case first came to JFON-NE, he was detained and had just been denied relief in a published decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. See Aguinada-Lopez v. Lynch, 814 F.3d 924 (8th Cir. February 23, 2016) (“Aguinada-Lopez I”). Remberto was facing deportation to El Salvador where his life was in grave danger. As part of our impact litigation work, JFON-NE teamed up with the Center for New Americans at the University of Minnesota Law School, and the law firm of Wichmer & Groneck in St. Louis to file an emergency stay of removal and a petition for rehearing. Read more…

Citizenship

The Path to Citizenship Takes Many Years

Jasmine’s story illustrates the lengthy timeline to obtain U.S. citizenship.

Jasmine was just 13 years old and living with her grandmother in the West African country of Cameroon when her parents in the U.S. finally saved enough money to bring her to Omaha. They wanted their daughter to live in safety and have more educational and economic opportunities than she had in Africa, where she was living in desperate poverty.

Read more…