An Immigrant comes out of the Shadows after 39 years




By Armando Vazquez

This is how Julie X’s confessional narrative, “This is my true and accurate testimony. I was born in in August 20, 1979 in Michoacán, Morelia, Mexico to a single abusive alcoholic mother. I do not know who my real father is; his identity was never revealed to me. My mother abandoned me, along with an older brother when I was a baby.

“At about three years of age my three adult uncles began to molest and rape me. This rape and torture continued for years. I was a baby, a defenseless child and had no one to protect me. I think my grandmother knew what was going on but what could she do? My grandmother is dead now taking all account of her involvement with her to her grave.

“At the age of seven my mother came to my grandmother’s house where I lived with many other cousins. One day Mother decided to smuggle me and my older brother into California. My mother was not alone in the smuggling operation she had help from a man that she identified as her husband.  They smuggled us successfully into Oxnard. I have lived in Oxnard since then and attended Ramona Elementary, Frank and Fremont Jr. High and dropped out of Oxnard High School in the 10th grade.

“Almost immediately after I was smuggled into Oxnard, California, ‘my step father’ began to force alcohol down my throat, rape and torture me. This continued for many years until he died. I believe that my mother knew what was going on but when I confronted her she denied involvement. She called me a whore and that if anyone was at fault it was me for being a cheap slut that teased her husband into his sexual acts.

“Before ‘my step father’ died, he and my mother tried to get me naturalized when we took a trip to Juarez, Mexico. For whatever reason my naturalization protocol ad application was never completed or processed”

This is how Julie X became a ghost…a statistic to be used and manipulated by politicians, functionaries; as so many others millions of undocumented souls she was sucked into the black hole that characterizes our broken immigration system in the United States. But if nothing else Julie X is a fighter, the most courageous and most resilient human being I have ever known; she fought and prayed for a miracle.

On June 12, 2016 her prayers were answered. After more than 30 years of living as an “undocumented” ghost without identity, Julie was provide the very vital and necessary certification of cooperation with the help of local law enforcement and Mr Michael Schwartz, Senior Assistant District Attorney. The certification of cooperation is the requisite legal document demanded by Homeland Security and the Department of Immigration Services when “undocumented” victims of certain crimes (in the case of Julie X it was rape) file for U-Visa consideration; a formal process that if successful can grant the petitioner legal resident status in the United States.

Julie X’s certification of cooperation could not have been obtained without the tireless work of key community players in this human drama.  Dr Debbie De Vries and I met Julie X some 17 years ago in our work with acute at–risk youth and their families that we conducted through our with the KEYS Leadership Academy. We learned very early on in our relationship that Julie was undocumented and so began our struggle to get her naturalization documentation.  Since that time Julie X has become a single mother of two boys.  Julie’s has been fighting acute alcoholism for most of her adolescent and adult life.  She got into trouble with the police on a number of occasions, all on drunk in public charge and lost her kids to the system for a few years. Julie X had hit rock bottom; but she did not give up and she continued to fight her acute alcoholism to win back her children.  Ventura County Children Protective Services helped Julie gain her sobriety, reunite with her children and in the process helped her seek psychiatric help.  She was diagnosis with acute PTSD and acute chemical addiction (alcoholism).  Slowly Julie X. began to travel the arduous road to recover her humanity.

In 2006, Julie filled an Oxnard Police Department report that she had been raped.  The OPD investigated her allegation and arrested a suspect. The rapist was tried and convicted in Ventura County on rape charges later that year. It was that awful act that open the door to U-Visa naturalization. 

We had obtained the pro bono legal assistance of various attorneys and requested all of the police reports from the OPD regarding the 2006 Rape crime committed against Julie. Initially the OPD denied providing these vital police reports. This is when our local LULAC office became involved as civil rights advocates. It was through the influence and political connection that LULAC has in Ventura County that things begin to happen and happen quickly in Julies favor. LULAC officials, working closely with the Oxnard Police Department and various departments in the Ventura County government, and in particular with Human Social Services and the District Attorney’s office, obtained the necessary legal and medical documentation. Mr Michael Schwartz did something extraordinarily noble and just; he conducted a further review of Julie X’s full and complete medical file. The compelling evidence was sufficient to alter his earlier denial and Julie X was finally granted the U-Visa certification of cooperation.

Julie X and the Acuna Gallery at the Café on A family would personally like to thank all of the many players involved in this successful community immigration action; in particular LULAC officials, the various departments of Ventura County government involved in this case, the Oxnard Police Department and the District Attorney office.

It took Julie X more than 30 years to come out of the shadows, but she will the first to tell you it was worth the fight. She is now truly free to pursue her American Dream.


Armando Vazquez

 Armando Vazquez is Executive Director of the KEYS Leadership Academy at Café A as well as being is a retired CEO, Executive Director, Business-Owner, teacher, community builder, group leader with demonstrated work history designing and implementing a variety of business, management, educational and vocational community support programs. Successful organizer of activities designed to promote and advance individual and community. Well-disciplined consensus builder.

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