ABLE and TomasTen year old Tomas did the only thing he could think of to survive—he ran. Fearing for his life, Tomas fled his home and his family in Guatemala and found his way to the United States seeking refuge. Traveling through the desert alone was frightening, but Tomas knew it was worth the risk to avoid the extreme poverty and criminal gang recruitment facing him at home.

Once he made it to the US, immigration officials served Tomas with deportation papers and released him to an aunt living in the Dayton area. Not sure what to do about his status and court papers, Tomas and his aunt were referred to ABLE. His ABLE attorney helped Tomas obtain Special Immigration Juvenile Status, available from Juvenile Court for children who cannot be reunified with a parent due to neglect and abuse. The lawyer then worked with Tomas’s aunt to obtain legal custody of him. Once custody was awarded, Tomas was eligible for a green card, keeping him safe from being deported. Tomas is no longer in danger and is now in school, free from worry and fear.