Javier is the first member of his family to graduate from college, with a degree in criminal justice from San Jose State University, and plans of becoming a police officer one day. His aspirations of protecting and serving his community stem from the many struggles he faced growing up.
Javier and his family fled their native land due to a rise in violence and drug trafficking. Javier described the small town in Michoacán, Mexico, where he spent the first 13 years of his life as a war zone that left one to two people dead every day. “My parents wanted my brothers and me to have the opportunity to attend high school and college. The small ranch town we lived in only offered schooling up to the sixth grade.”
The transition to life in America was difficult for Javier. “I did not speak the language, which made me shy, and I was overwhelmed by the size of my new school. My school in Mexico was one classroom that was shared by all the students.” In ninth grade, Javier was targeted by gang members at his school to join their gang. Javier’s refusal to join did not sit well with the gang members. One day as we walked home after school with a friend, Javier noticed three of his classmates suspiciously following him. As they crept closer, they challenged Javier to a fight, but he ignored them and continued walking home.
Before Javier could react, the three students attacked Javier from behind and gashed his forehead with a lighter. The blows to the back of Javier’s head caused him to lose consciousness temporarily. Luckily, a Good Samaritan saw the state that Javier was in and brought him into her home. She cleaned him up and allowed him to contact the Redwood City police department. The next day, police officers met with Javier at his high school and gave him the opportunity to identify his assailants. Javier’s courage to speak to the police and face his attackers allowed Javier and his family the opportunity to apply for a U Visa. The U Visa is granted to undocumented immigrants who are victims of crime in the United States.
Through IIBA, Javier received the support and legal services he needed to apply for and receive legal status for his whole family. The U Visa helped his mother find a job that allowed her to spend more time with her family. “Before receiving the U Visa, my mom would have to work days and nights and would only be able to see my brothers and me two afternoons a week.”
Javier currently gives presentations to undocumented youth who seek to continue their education and attend college. Javier’s ultimate goal is to enroll in the police academy after he becomes a U.S. citizen.