Esperanza was going through the DACA program, but when the lawyer reviewed her file, she realized that she could qualify for the U visa

When, at the age of 14, Esperanza Clara de Jesús was a victim of rape, it never occurred to her to think that through that tragedy that marked her for life, she could cease to be undocumented not only her but her future husband who in that I didn't know moment.

Migration lawyer Alex Gálvez surprised the couple this week with the good news of the residence card. “I did know that he had arrived, but my husband did not, I brought him with the promise that they would give us a prize on the radio. But, prize of what, I wondered. It is surprise, wait, he said. He thought they were tickets to go to Disneyland, ”says Esperanza.

But in reality she acknowledges that she never, never imagined getting permanent residence, and that she was going to be able to help my husband become a resident. “The happiness I feel is something that cannot be described,” he says smiling.

Esperanza is from Puebla, Mexico. “My mother brought my brothers and me to the United States in 1992, when I was 10 years old. We came to live in Orange County, ”he recalls.

Manuel De Jesús Gutiérrez with his wife Esperanza de Jesús, his daughter Samantha and the lawyer Alex Gálvez. (Aurelia Ventura / The Opinion)

Four years later, a tragedy would change his life forever. Esperanza was abused by a family friend. "We denounced him and he spent about ten years in prison," he adds.

At 19, Esperanza met at the restaurant for which Manuel de Jesús, an immigrant from Querétaro, Mexico, worked as a cook. "Three years later we got married," he says. Both are parents of Samantha, a girl of a year and a half.

When in 2012, President Obama approved the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Esperanza went to see the immigration lawyer to help her with her request to obtain the decreed immigration relief.

“But when he reviewed my entire file, he realized that I had gone to court and had been the victim of a serious crime. He proposed that we could do something better than DACA, request the U visa, ”he says.

The U visa is given to people who are victims of very serious crimes who collaborate with the police.

Manuel de Jesus with his wife Esperanza De Jesús. (Aurelia Ventura / The Opinion)

They submitted the petition for the U visa in August 2012. “We received the U Visa in 2014. This year in March, we applied for residence,” he says.

It was lawyer Galvez who made him see that her husband could be included in the petition.

“We were both undocumented. The truth is that neither I nor my husband thought we would ever be legally in this country, ”he says.

To Esperanza, her eyes get red when she remembers that it was the rape she suffered as a minor, that opened the doors for her residence.

"I didn't know about the U visa. I was going for DACA," he says.

However, when the lawyer Galvez told him that this possibility existed, he did not think so, he put himself in his hands and forgot about DACA. In March 2013, he received his first work permit. Her husband arrived three months later.

"The rape it was something very Lasted. TO times I say!already the I overcame! But moment from speak it, that pain comes out why is how return to live it. At home that topic is no longer touched. We already left it behind. I don't say, how good it happened, but at least from something bad, something good came out. Life has compensated me. I did something good because he sent me a good partner, a daughter who is a miracle because I could not conceive and we had to undergo many fertility treatments, ”he says.

What she never thought was that she could help her husband fix the residence. “When the lawyer reviewed the case, he said he was not guaranteeing anything, but that he was going to include my husband in the U Visa petition

Permanent residence could not come at a better time. “At the beginning, we were not afraid because we didn't hear so much about the consequences that one could be here without papers. Even when we had already put in the documents for the residence and the law of public charge came out, we thought that maybe they were going to return us to our country, that I was born there, but in reality I don't know it because I grew up here. And if we were worried that they would return to us, ”he observes.

Manuel De Jesús Gutiérrez with his wife Esperanza De Jesús and his daughter Samantha. (Aurelia Ventura / La Opinion)

Esperanza is confident that her greatest desire as a permanent resident of the United States is to travel to Mexico.

“We want to go now, but you can't. We hope to travel for February of next year. I am 27 years old that I am not going. I want to go visit my village Izúcar de Matamoros in Puebla. I already want to step on Mexico and give thanks in the Basilica of Guadalupe for my miracle baby and for the residence, ”he says.

Her husband Manuel, 41, confesses that he dreams of going to Mexico to meet his mother whom he has not seen since 1997, when he emigrated to the United States. He was 17 when he left his native Querétaro. "I'm very happy. Being a resident is something very big, which many want and cannot have. ”

Both agree that, in five years, they want to become citizens of the United States.

U Visas: The key from gold

Esperanza recommends that undocumented immigrants who are victims of a crime see a immigration lawyer. “It's a long process, it can be annoying. So you have to be patient and have everything in order, but the wait is worth it to get the gift of residence that allows us a better future and live peacefully here, ”he says.

Lawyer Galvez states that the process for U visas is currently taken up to five years, before it took three or four years at most.

“The nice thing is that it results in residence and covers people who were not involved as Esperanza's husband. In that case we were able to convince migration that the victim would suffer a lot if he separated her from her partner, ”he explains.

It can also cover children or parents, he adds. And it details that the lowest crime that can qualify for the U visa is an assault that results in injuries.

"Once they obtain the U visa, in three or four years they can apply for residency, and in five, citizenship," he explains. "I call the U visa, the golden key for residence," he says.

In the case of Esperanza, her mother's U visa has been requested as she testified in court for her daughter's rape in 1997. "She is happy because we are already calm," says Esperanza.


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