Maria Montealegre, On Way To Becoming Legal Immigrant, Still Faces Homelessness
The Washington Heights resident, along with Andres Mares Muro (from the Mirabal Center) visited the Mexican Consulate and were told that Montealegre qualifies for a "U visa," which would make it easier for her and her family to get into a shelter.
Here's what happened: Staff at Mirabal recently suggested that Montealegre visit a domestic abuse center, as Montealegre has faced threats from one of the children's fathers.
Danielle Salgado, an attorney with the social service agency Northern Manhattan Improvement Corp. and associated with this center for abuse victims, then told Montealegre that she qualifies for a visa for immigrants who are victims of crimes -- said U visa.
The U.S. Immigration website states: "The purpose of the U visa it gives victims of certain crimes temporary legal status and work eligibility in the United States for up to 4 years. The U visa is a non-immigrant visa and only 10,000 U visas may be issued every fiscal year. Family members may also be included on the petition including spouses, children, unmarried sisters and brothers under 18, mothers, fathers, as well as stepparents and adoptive parents."
However, Montealegre had an expired passport, making it impossible to obtain this visa.
"That's when we visited the Mexican Consulate," Mares said. "I went with her this past Friday and Monday and I told her to bring a copy of the story."
"It's crowded in there, and there isn't much there to single you out," Mares said. "But when we showed them the article on Maria, their eyes opened up. It really made a difference. After that things started moving."
In the end, the Consulate did renew her passport for a year.
Mares said that Montealegre now needs to use this year wisely if she wants to obtain a green card.
We reached out to Shafaq Islam, Montealegre's attorney at the Urban Justice Center, for any updates on her housing situation. Montealegre and her family have yet to find a place to live.