Pro Bono Victory for Cuban Refugee Who Was Homeless for Over Ten Years

September 5, 2009Shahid Haque

The Firm is proud to announce that it has won permanent resident status for José Auraz, a Cuban citizen and resident of Missoula, Montana. José has a compelling story that he would like to share.In 1993, José fled from Cuba and swam to Guantanamo Bay.  The swim was a lengthy and dangerous one — during the 82 minute swim, José managed to ward off sharks by pouring gasoline on himself.  After arriving at Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. military eventually brought José to Miami, Florida.  Under the “wet feet, dry feet” policy instituted by the Cuban Adjustment Act, any Cuban who arrives on U.S. soil can apply for permanent residency after one year.  However, José’s path to permanent residency was not an easy one.It was difficult for José to earn a living in Miami, and he eventually fell into a cycle of poverty from which it was hard to escape.  Although José was lawfully present in the U.S., he didn’t have papers, and couldn’t get a good job without these papers.  José needed an attorney to help him through the complex application process, but he simply couldn’t afford an attorney.For thirteen years, José bounced between homelessness and poverty, but all of this changed when he found himself at the Poverello Center in Missoula, Montana.  A newspaper article from the Missoulian explains what happened next:

For one year, Whitt said Poverello Center director Ellie Hill went on the hunt for an immigration attorney who would take his case. It wasn’t an easy pitch. Missing documents complicated the case, as did the request for pro bono work. Thirteen lawyers later, Shahid Haque, a lawyer at the Border Crossing Law Firm in Helena, agreed to take on the task.

And he succeeded.

“My life changed when I received my employment authorization,” Auraz said.

Now that he is able to earn a living, José can take custody of his son and resume his life.  We wish José the best of luck in all his endeavors!To read José’s full article from the Missoulian, please click here.

Advocating for immigrants.

The Border Crossing Law Firm is a full-service immigration law firm, offering help with visas, green cards, citizenship, and deportation proceedings. We have been committed to the immigrant community for two decades, representing thousands of immigrants and their families across the country.