It is no small irony that Diana fled gang violence in El Salvador while working with young people on violence prevention. She had been a police officer but became a social worker in order to help young people stay out of gangs. In 2016, gang members tried to extort her by threatening to kill her daughter. Diana and her daughter hid at a friend’s house. When she tried to return to her home, they tried to kill her. Her car was shot up, but she was unharmed. Shortly after that, they came to the United States seeking asylum.
They arrived knowing no English. Because you support us, Diana and her daughter were both able to study at The Immigrant Learning Center. Diana struggled with post traumatic stress disorder from all she had been through. A counselor at The ILC referred her to a psychologist who has helped her come to terms with her fears and find ways to contribute in her new home. Volunteering with the El Salvador consulate, Diana is organizing safe sex and drug prevention education for Hispanic youth in the Boston area. Her eldest daughter was married last year and had her first child. The youngest daughter is working toward a degree in baking and pastry, and the family hopes to open a bakery some day.
Although the family is now safe and contributing to our community, this is not yet a good news story. Diana is here on a temporary visa while her asylum case is decided. She doesn’t yet have a court date, and her lawyers tell her the process will take three to four years. With the announcement by Attorney General Sessions in June that gang violence will no longer be considered grounds for asylum, there is cause for concern. Diana is not giving up hope, and we are not giving up on Diana.
Founder and CEO
The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc.
Congratulations on 20 years of giving immigrants a voice to two dedicated members of The ILC staff:
Holly Jones is the director of counseling. Starting a new life in a new country can be very stressful. Holly provides counseling services to students and staff and presents workshops to the students on various subjects including stress management.
Kathleen Klose currently teaches citizenship exam preparation classes. Over her career, she has helped shape The Immigrant Learning Center. Kathleen created the Theater Class and the Literacy Program.
The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc. (ILC) of Malden, MA, is a not-for-profit organization that gives immigrants a voice in three ways. The English Language Program provides free, year-round English classes to immigrant and refugee adults in Greater Boston to help them become successful workers, parents and community members. The Public Education Institute informs Americans about the economic and social contributions of immigrants in our society, and the Institute for Immigration Research, a joint venture with George Mason University, conducts research on the economic contributions of immigrants. For more information, visit the website at www.ilctr.org or Facebook page ImmigrantLearningCenter.