IIBA Client: Amelia Hernandez

“IIBA staff always kept me updated on the status of my case and made me feel secure,” says Amelia Hernandez. She appreciates that sense of security more than ever after her nightmarish journey to the U.S.

Amelia had lived a comfortable life with her family in Mexico until a man she thought of as her friend betrayed her. Amelia, then fifteen years old, had been suffering from stomach pains, so this man offered to take her to Mexico City to visit a doctor he knew. Before getting in the car, he encouraged her to take some “pain medication” he had purchased. The medication was actually a sedative, and Amelia awoke not at a medical clinic, but at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Amelia quickly realized her “friend” had kidnapped her. He had obtained false documents to smuggle Amelia into the U.S., and when she attempted to flee, he threatened to harm her family. Trapped, Amelia entered the U.S. under duress. “My life was turned upside down from one day to the next,” says Amelia. “I was now living in a new country at a very young age and had to mature very quickly.”

Trusting in a neighbor she had befriended, Amelia revealed the manner in which she entered the country. The neighbor sent Amelia to IIBA, sure that if anyone could help Amelia, IIBA could. Attending an IIBA consultation gave Amelia the strength she needed to report the abuses she was suffering and the prison-like conditions under which she lived.

Thanks to Amelia, the police apprehended her captor and deported him back to Mexico. Meanwhile, IIBA assisted Amelia in applying for a U Visa, adjusting her legal status, allowing her to acquire a work permit, enabling her to visit her family in Mexico, and putting her on the path toward U.S. citizenship.

Becoming a legal permanent resident allowed Amelia to establish a stable, independent life. “The experienced staff at IIBA helped me feel welcomed and safe,” recalls Amelia. “Because of IIBA, I was able to visit Mexico after 14 years of being separated from my family. I left a naïve fifteen-year-old and returned an adult with a loving husband and three children.”

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