One Refugee at a Time: Marbella's Asylum Journey

Friends, we’re reviving this GoFundMe page to support Marbella as she endures COVID-related financial hardships during her legal fight to remain in the United States.

Her final asylum hearing is in October and we hope for a resolution soon after that..We’re trying to raise $4,500 for four months’ support.  If you have someone in your life you’re already supporting who, like Marbella, is caught in the tangle of pandemic and economic crash, then bless you for all that you’re doing. If you can help support her in these trying times, please give what you can. If you’d like to know more, you can scroll through our update down to our original post nearly two years ago. 
Thank you for anything you can give!

-- Kathleen, Nick, and Marbella 

August 2020 Update:
Marbella has now been part of our life and our family for two years, and we continue to accompany her through the long and complicated pathway to asylum. Her final asylum hearing is in two months. Her lawyers believe that she has an extremely strong case as a transgender person from Honduras – which is ranked as the third most dangerous country in the world for trans folk. 

Marbella applied for a work permit  shortly after she arrived in our home in August 2018, and then waited eight months for it to arrive. When it finally came through, she promptly landed two simultaneous jobs (at a restaurant and a hotel) and worked seven days a week, as well as some evenings, before relaxing her pace a bit and shifting exclusively to the restaurant – though still all seven days whenever she could. The restaurant has been much more than a workplace: in addition to being queer-friendly, management also prioritizes building community among the staff, so some deep friendships have also emerged.

Marbella’s determination and hard work enabled her to move out of our home last December and into her own sublet room about a mile away from us. She has been financially self-sufficient, not only supporting her own needs but also saving a portion of her earnings – which stood her in good stead when the restaurant industry here in Boston came to an abrupt halt in March due to the pandemic. Marbella supported herself on savings for four months of shut-down – but finally ran out of funds to make her August rent. The restaurant has re-opened, but only partially, so her hours are limited to three days a week. As the Covid-19 rate slowly starts to increase again here, no one knows how long our restaurants will be able to operate. So we’re asking you to supplement what she can currently earn, in order to get her through the months until her court date and what we hope will be permanent status soon after. 

Marbella adds: “I love being in Boston, but these months of pandemic have been really sad for me. As my funds have dwindled, it’s been harder to figure out how to live. I can never return to Honduras because of the discrimination and violence – in fact, 3 transgender women have been murdered there in the past two months. Here, at least I’ve had safety; I’ve got friends, a great work community, and a network of people dedicated to accompanying migrants. I’m looking forward to a life of freedom here in Boston once there’s a positive final decision in my court date in October.”

From August 2018:
This past spring, you may have heard about a caravan of refugees from Central America making their way through Mexico to the US border to seek asylum (Donald Trump made it infamous through a series of outrageous and untrue tweets). Nick and I decided to become sponsors for one of these refugees, and at the start of August Marbella Palacios came to live with us indefinitely while she pursues her claim to asylum. Marbella is just 23 years old, and as a transgender woman from Honduras, she has already experienced more trauma and violence than most people suffer in a lifetime (you can read her message below).

 We’re asking for your help in supporting Marbella in the uncertain months ahead. As a refugee, she arrived with nothing but a couple of changes of clothing, which means she needs…. pretty much everything you can imagine. Along with the basics of food and shelter that we’re providing, your funds will help with medical care, eye glasses, a monthly pass on the Boston T, a mobile phone, winter clothing, and other necessities as Marbella seeks safety, and adjusts to life in a new country, new culture, and new language. We are immensely grateful to have found a pro bono immigration attorney, but there may well be additional legal costs as this convoluted process unfolds.

The path forward for asylum in the Trump era is deeply uncertain, even for a person so clearly at risk for violence if she is deported back to Honduras. In addition to whatever financial help you can offer, please keep her in your hearts and prayers.

 Marbella’s message:
Hello, my name is Marbella Palacios. I’m 23 years old, a transgender woman, and originally from Honduras. I’m here in the US now, because violence directed against me drove me to flee my own country. I presented myself at the US border legally and requested asylum, but I was then put in detention for 3 months, even though I wasn’t charged with any crime at all. Now I’m very glad to be in Boston, and I look forward to starting English classes this month. The immigration process in this country does not allow me to work for at least six months, so until I’m allowed to support myself, I have no means of earning my own way. I am grateful for your support, your welcome to this country, and your prayers.
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Kathleen MCTIGUE 
Boston, MA

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