In 2014, a family from rural Georgia hired me to help them on the long immigration journey of filing an I-130, I-601A provisional waiver and then consular process an immigrant visa through Ciudad Juarez. Israel had been in the U.S., undocumented since he was a teenager. His wife, Gloria, came from a Mexican family but was born in the United States. Israel and Gloria have three young girls – all under the age of 10.
Israel and Gloria are people of faith. But more than that, they practice what they preach. They not only go to church – they organize the youth program. They not only organize the youth program – they take the kids out in the community to volunteer in shelters and food pantries. Although Israel and Gloria are not wealthy, they are quick to count their blessings and share whatever they have with anyone who may need a little extra help. They are two of the kindest, most selfless people I’ve met.
Yet, Israel knew his lack of immigration status could destroy his family. He wanted to make it right if at all possible, no matter the cost and hardship. When the family hired me, they were prepared – financially, mentally, and emotionally. I could tell that they were scared, but they were resolved to move forward and do what was they felt was right.
When we signed the contract that very first day, they asked me to do something I had never done with clients before. They asked if we could pray together. I was surprised but agreed. Israel prayed in Spanish and afterward Gloria told me that he had asked God for strength and patience and that he had also asked God to guide me in my work.
Admittedly, I am not particularly religious. I go to church on important holidays and I pray when a loved one is sick. So praying at work with a client was new. But, it was important to Israel and Gloria and I will take any extra help I am offered.
Over the next year, everything went smoothly in their case. Finally, the day came for Israel’s visa appointment in Ciudad Juarez. This time, it was my turn to say a little prayer for the family! Israel’s visa was approved and within a week, he was able to return to the United States. When he left, he was undocumented and afraid. When he returned, he was proud and full of hope for his future. And he was a Lawful Permanent Resident.
This past Friday, Israel, Gloria and their girls came into the office to say thank you. They drove four hours just to tell me about the experience in Ciudad Juarez, about how their lives had already begun to change, and how grateful they were for the work we had done. Then they asked if we could pray together one more time.
Israel thanked God for allowing his family to be together in the United States, for allowing them to complete the process successfully, and then he asked God to bless Alina and me and to give us the strength and ability to continue to help more people. Even if my brain couldn’t understand every word that he said, my heart didn’t need a translation to feel the power of his prayer.