22nd Jul 2017
New York City – When lawyer Cesar Vargas initially met his teenage client Ivan Ruiz, a freshly arrived undocumented immigrant from Honduras, he observed Ruiz appeared to bear the weight of his traumatic childhood on his sleeve.
Ruiz, 15 at the time, seldom spoke, expressing concerns about his life in Honduras with long stares and heavy nods. It was just this past year that Vargas would find out the level of abuse Ruiz suffered while coping with extended member of the family after his mother and father immigrated to the United States for a better life. Ruiz was hardly fed, forced to work long hours and even beaten with a tire as punishment.
The abuse ended up being too much to bear. After trekking through Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador, Ruiz crossed the border into the United States in spring 2016. His journey wasn’t over, though, and a year ago he was commanded to appear in immigration court.