Walid left Egypt in fear for his life, the victim of a hate crime. Now, more than 10 years later, he won’t speak of his experience in his native country; he prefers to focus on his dreams for the future and what he needs to do to achieve them.
“I’m going to San Francisco,” he declares with conviction. “I am going to film school.”
Most of the people served by La Posada are new to the country, but Walid falls into a smaller category. He entered theUnited States in 1999 and stayed without gaining asylum or legal residency. After 10 years, immigration officials sent him to detention. Held for nine months, Walid was moved from his home in Chicago to New Jersey, then Pennsylvania and finally Harlingen.
“It was like a nightmare,” Walid says, noting that detainees have fewer rights than prisoners. When his case finally went to court, he received asylum quickly.
When Walid was released from detention, he came to La Posada. On his first evening here, he went for a walk. Many detainees feel a real need to get out and walk around. After being closed up in cells for so long, they relish the fresh air and freedom. Unfortunately, Walid walked into a dangerous neighborhood, where he was severely beaten.
“Everyone was very sad when Walid was attacked, because it happened to one of our own,” said Client Coordinator Monica Peña-Rasmussen. “Everyone here pitched in to help him recover. It was very touching: everything we strive to be, that’s what we were at that time.”
Walid now has a work permit and his Social Security card. Monica is helping him with the final piece, an identification card. The staff at La Posada “helped me do everything,”
Walid said, noting the shelter staff took him to the doctor and to all his appointments with lawyers, the court, the Social Security office, etc. “Everything would be more difficult without them,” he notes. “I didn’t know the steps, the rules. Now I have my documents. I can move on.”
“Considering all he has gone through, Walid still has the tenacity and spirit to do what he has to do,” Monica said. “He is very intelligent and sensitive to others, very forgiving and mature. He wants to contribute to society.”