This is what immigration means for America.

IIBA Client: Karina Mendoza

Imagine the United States is the only country you have ever known, but daily you fear you might be forced to leave. Imagine living with that insecurity, yet still moving forward in full pursuit of your dreams, determined to make a difference.

This is how Karina Mendoza felt growing up in Redwood City, refusing to let fear and insecurity stop her from aspiring to give back to her community as a therapist. She has worked full-time in pursuit of her dream, putting herself through college and now graduate school, where she is currently studying Clinical Psychology.

Brought to the United States from El Salvador when she was just three months old, Karina has no other home. “I went to school here. My friends are here. My whole life is here. I don’t know any other place but here,” Karina says.

Karina exemplifies the perseverance and promise of so many young immigrants in this nation. However, due to her legal status, her life has been punctuated with fear. Eager for security, Karina scheduled a legal consultation at the Immigration Institute of the Bay Area (IIBA), where she learned good news: she qualified for a specific visa based on her circumstances.

With her U visa approved, she is now on a path to permanent residency. “I feel like I can breathe now,” Karina says. “It’s security. It’s peace of mind.”

In addition to pursuing her graduate degree, Karina works full time as a program manager at a nonprofit that pairs foster children with community volunteers. Karina is passionate about her work with children, and she looks forward to making a positive impact as a clinical psychologist in her community. She wants to fight the stigma that so often stops people from getting the help they need.

“I always told my mom, ‘When I get older I want to be a therapist, because sometimes you just need to talk to someone,’” Karina says.

IIBA is honored to help Karina establish a secure future in the country that has always been her home.

You can help support immigrants like Karina by making a donation to IIBA today.

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