(From Iowa JFON Attorney April Palma’s June 6, 2015, Staff Report to the Justice for Our Neighbors Standing Committee of the Conference Board of Global Ministries. ALL names have been changed to protect identities of clients and others.)
Sandra is a 17 year old from El Salvador. Last summer her parents sent her away from their home with instructions not to return because they could no longer support her. Growing up Sandra was physically abused by her mother. Her mother has severe anxiety and when she would get anxious, she would hit Sandra, often leaving marks and some permanent scars.
Additionally, back in El Salvador Sandra was being threatened by a 38 year old gang member because he wanted her to be his girlfriend. When she refused, he threatened to kill her. He started waiting for her after school, so she had to drop out of school. Shortly after she dropped out of school, her parents sent her away.
Sandra arrived in the U.S. in June 2014, through Hidalgo, Texas, and was detained by border patrol. Sandra was released by the Office of Refugee Resettlement to her sponsor José (a cousin of her father) and his wife in Osceola. Since then relations between Sandra and her sponsors have deteriorated. Her sponsors frequently told her to go back home (to El Salvador), that she wasn’t welcome here and generally mistreated her. Eventually, Sandra was kicked out of their home.
A school friend and her family took Sandra in. Sandra is now living in Des Moines with her friend Mariana and Mariana’s mother Norma. Norma had previously been assisted by JFON and called to schedule an appointment for Sandra. JFON agreed to assist Sandra with her case. Sandra is currently in the process of applying for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS).