In all, it took more than a year for Minna and Miguel to reach the American Port of Entry at the International Bridge in Laredo, Texas. They were excited. They felt safe.
“Here in the United States, I’m not running from danger,” Minna explained.
Homeland Security officers split Minna and Miguel apart. Days passed with no communication.
“I had the proof to present … all of the persecution, all of the proof of the torture. The operation from the head trauma,” Minna said.
Immigration officers released Minna from detention but sent her husband to a facility in Miami.
Immigration attorney Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch of Austin said that’s not uncommon.
“I consistently hear heartbreaking stories of families seeking asylum coming in to the United States, placed in a Border Patrol holding facility and they’re separated. They’re not told what’s happening to their family members,” she said.
Lincoln-Goldfinch leads the fight for Minna. She also said Minna and Miguel should be able to go through the asylum process together.
“It seems to me that Minna and her husband should have been treated equally. They both should have been paroled out and allowed to seek their asylum cases,” said Lincoln-Goldfinch.
Minna and Miguel have the same set of facts, but for now, must face different immigration courts. The couple’s cases cannot be combined unless Miguel meets his bond and a court allows them to consolidate. Lincoln-Goldfinch said that’s what she hopes to accomplish.
The asylum grant rate is less than 15 percent nationwide based on the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Justice.
“It’s really easy for people to say we need to shut down our borders and not let anyone come in to our country, we have enough problems as it is. But when you see a face of someone and what they’ve suffered and what they’re going through, it really helps place an understanding as to who these individuals are,” Lincoln-Goldfinch said.
“What would you say to someone who says they should try to come in the legal way,” KVUE’s Erica Proffer asked Lincoln-Goldfinch.
“This is one of the legal ways to come in,” she responded. “This is the only way.”
Minna said she did not come here looking for a free ride. She wants to become a citizen and contribute to our society and the economy.
“I would like to study. I would like to work. I would like to be integrated into society, with the law, with the constitution, with all that I couldn’t learn in the country I used to live,” Minna explained.
Hope is her light shining in the darkness.
“It just makes you realize what this country was founded on. This country was founded on hope …people looking for a better life,” said James Johnson. “It’s amazing to see a smile on her face … a person who has the right to be angry at a lot of things and she chooses to be happy every day. It’s amazing. It’s powerful.”
James and Angela are proof that you don’t need a bloodline to have a family. In their home, Minna feels at home. And all she wants is for the U.S. to be her home.
“My life, my son’s life, his (Miguel’s) life, depends on this country,” said Minna.
Minna goes to immigration court Monday where a judge will decide if she can start a path to permanent residency or if she needs to plead her asylum case.