Kevin greets you with a shy smile and a kindness that immediately warms your heart. His journey to the present has not been an easy one, yet he chooses to focus on the good that has brought him here and the bright future that lies in front of him.
Kevin left Honduras to emigrate to the United States with his stepfather when he was 14 years old, leaving behind his mother and younger brother. His stepfather had encouraged Kevin’s mother, Maria, to allow Kevin to join him for the arduous journey, believing that it would be easier to enter the United States accompanied by a minor.
“It is very difficult to live in Honduras. It’s very poor and there is a lot of crime and gangs. I wanted to come to this country to study and make a better life for my family.”
Kevin’s stepfather assured Maria that he would look out for the young boy, provide for him, and enroll him in school as soon as it was possible. Kevin said the journey was hard, but he and his stepfather survived without any major problems. Shortly after they arrived in the United States, things began to change.
Kevin’s stepfather began drinking and would leave him alone to care for himself in their apartment. He forced Kevin to work a grueling 6-day-a-week job in construction and would not allow him to enroll in school. One day his stepfather left and never returned.
Kevin decided to move to North Carolina to live with his uncle in hopes things would be different, but quickly life settled into a similar pattern. His uncle forced Kevin to work in construction to pay rent and cover other household expenses. He would not allow Kevin to enroll in school. One day Kevin fell from the second story of a construction job, severely injuring his back. Because Kevin was undocumented, his uncle was afraid to take him to the hospital and forced Kevin to recover on his own at home. He eventually returned to work, but he knew it wasn’t sustainable.
Maria connected Kevin with her uncle in Charlotte who assured Kevin that he could support him and would allow Kevin to enroll in school. In 2020, Kevin was finally able to start school, a memory that brings an instant smile to Kevin’s face.
Kevin describes his mother’s uncle and now caregiver as a father figure, someone who has created a home and future for Kevin. It was through his uncle and his uncle’s church that Kevin learned about Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy.
“I would not have been able to afford an attorney on my own because I was not working. My uncle was willing to help me, but he was already helping me with so much: food, rent, and everything. It would have been difficult for him to also pay for an attorney.”
Sharon Dove, Attorney and Immigrant Justice Program Director, connected with Kevin and quickly learned the compelling facts of Kevin’s situation.
Sharon was able to pursue a T-Visa on Kevin’s behalf, a form of immigration relief for victims of human trafficking. Sharon demonstrated to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that Kevin was coerced to enter the United States under false pretenses and was compelled into involuntary servitude. Kevin was granted a temporary visa that will allow him to become a legal permanent resident. It will also enable Kevin’s mother and younger brother to apply for legal permanent residency, a fact that brings Kevin tremendous joy and relief.
“Finding the [Advocacy Center] was like winning the lottery for me. I never thought I could get legal status in this country.”
Kevin eagerly shares that he will graduate from high school this May. Although his mother will not be able to attend his graduation, she is incredibly proud of all that Kevin has accomplished on his own. Kevin modestly admits she admires the strength he has shown over the past few years and his dedication to finishing school. Kevin is not just passionate about learning. He also excitedly talks about his efforts to help other immigrants in the community, assisting those he can as a translator. Kevin looks forward to his future and plans to study medicine in hopes of one day becoming a doctor.
When asked to describe the Advocacy Center, Kevin simply calls it, “la casa de esperanza, the house of hope”.
Help us continue to provide hope for young immigrants like Kevin: support the Access to Justice Campaign today!