Barrios & Virguez JULY 2018

JULY 2018

THE MONTHLY ADVOCATE

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World almost every day right after it happened to keep my mind away from thoughts of my kidnappers. My dad didn’t want us to go back to Guatemala at all, but we needed to for the trail. Some of my fears were valid. In the days and weeks after the kidnapping, our family received death threats, and we were followed. My dad decided we couldn’t live in Guatemala anymore. He arranged for us to come to the United States. We returned to Guatemala for the trial, and after it was over, we officially moved to the U.S. Going through this showed me what this country can give to people — freedom from fear, freedom from persecution, and freedom from poverty. I no longer look over my shoulder all the time. I’ve experienced true freedom. I’m really grateful. I’ve seen the same transformation happen for our clients when they receive their approval notices. When you don’t have status, there’s no peace. You are always looking over your shoulder. Once we provide that status, it brings the freedom and peace that our clients have been waiting and hoping for. That’s my first job — to bring peace and freedom to my clients. It’s incredible what getting status does for families. When they receive their green card, their whole life changes. One of our clients was separated from her family. She was outside of the country and couldn’t return to them. Her husband was a U.S. citizen, and they’d been apart for years. You can imagine what it was like for them to reunite. It gave them their lives and futures back. It’s amazing to help clients in this way. My favorite part of what I do is to reunite families and help people get out of dangerous places. It’s why we work so hard at our jobs. We defend freedoms so that people can have better futures than they would in their

I am so grateful to be in this country. The United States has provided me with so many freedoms — freedom from violence, freedom from fear, and the freedom to start over after facing terrifying circumstances. After I was kidnapped in my home country of Guatemala when I was 10, my life was full of fear. I was sure my kidnappers were going to come back for me. I was traumatized. To distract me, my dad took me to Disney WE FIGHT FOR A BETTER FUTURE Freedom From Fear

home countries. I know how powerful freedom is, and I know how debilitating fear is. No one should have to live with the presence of fear in their lives.

–Keren Barrios

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