Duñia, who was born in Honduras, entered the United States as a toddler along with her older sisters. Her first memory of the United States was “dancing on top of tables for men.” From the ages of 3-16, Duñia was sold by her mother and was physically forced to engage in sex work. Over the last four years, Duñia has worked closely with a number of LIJC students, including Erika Uribe ’17, who filed and won her T-visa application, and Michelle Polanco ‘19, who zealously advocated to have Duñia’s removal proceedings terminated and secured her legal permanent residency. When you ask Duñia about her experience, she always says “a woman broke me down, but it was you [women] who built me back up.”
LIJC also celebrated this month with Mauricio, a client who came to the United States in 2014 after his mother promised to help him escape political persecution in El Salvador. Once under his mother's control, Mauricio was forced into indentured servitude. Mauricio's mother controlled his employment and collected his pay, physically abusing him if he complained. Mauricio was able to escape his mother’s home with the support of his step-father, and has now obtained a T-visa with the representation of students Karla Ballesteros '20, Daniel Barragan '21 and Samuel Schlegel '20.