When Karen’s family tried to enter the US from El Salvador without proper documentation, her stepfather sold her in exchange for safe passage for his wife and baby. Sadly, Karen, 14, was abused for over a week before she escaped. She tried to cross the border by herself, but was caught by police.
Karen received counseling and medical assistance through the Office of Refugee Resettlement foster care and then was placed with an aunt in Georgia. Catholic Charities Atlanta provided continued counseling and enlisted its in-house Immigration Legal Services program to help Karen. There was no one to care for her in El Salvador, and rejoining her mother and stepfather was not an option. Catholic Charities found that she would qualify for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and began working with her to obtain a Juvenile Court order.
Karen is awaiting her final interview to obtain Legal Permanent Resident status and no longer fears being returned to El Salvador or her stepfather. With help from Catholic Charities, she has blossomed over the past year — from a shattered, withdrawn little girl to a confident young woman full of hope.