Navigating the broken immigration system, one case at a time

By Cecilia Anguiano, NWIRP Staff Attorney

As an attorney in our Wenatchee office, I am honored to work alongside many members of our Eastern Washington community. The immigration system in the United States is profoundly broken and anti-immigrant. No one should have to face such a system.

Cecilia (L) with her partner

One of the many clients who have made an impact on my life is Xóchitl*. She grew up as a member of an indigenous community in Mexico and now lives in the Central Washington area.

Xóchitl was placed in removal (deportation) proceedings when she was unfortunately present while a warrant was being executed for someone else.

A few months after this incident, Xochitl’s abusive husband attacked her in front of her children and she called the police. She testified in his criminal trial that she faced further abuse from her husband. She then attempted to retain a private attorney for her immigration case but ran out of finances. That’s when she came to NWIRP for help. NWIRP was able to find an interpreter who spoke her indigenous language in order to assist Xochitl in applying for a special immigration protection for survivors of violence called a U Visa.

NWIRP has also assisted Xochitl in obtaining a work permit as Xochitl’s other forms of protection remain pending before the Immigration Court. In a single year, Xochitl has had to bear criminal court, family court, immigration court, and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in order to seek safety in the United States for her children and herself.

Both of my parents were once undocumented. And while my mother is now a U.S. citizen and my father is a green card holder, they struggled for a long time with not having status and at the time, a severe lack of Spanish interpreters wherever they went. I see my parents in clients like Xochitl. I want to make sure our community members have someone standing alongside them.

*We have used a pseudonym to protect this client’s identity