Mario & Juanita

Mario is a 22-year old native of Detroit. With only a high-school education, he has only worked minimum wage jobs. He’s active in his church and loves his country. During a visit with family in Mexico in 2018, he met Juanita and in following visits he decided his life would only be complete if they got married and she moved to join him in the U.S.

In recent years this kind of family visa process has become much more difficult. Fees for immigrant visas have risen dramatically and applicants must prove that they have the financial means to support a family here without public assistance. Proving this can be quite involved with many documents and years of financial history required as support. These new rules have cut the rate of acceptance by half.

Mario sought help from a private attorney, but he could not afford the legal fees on top of the application costs. So, he came to SWIRC and we worked closely with him. Together we prepared his applications, helped him assemble all the documents and identify a financial sponsor who pledged to support the couple if they needed assistance.

The applications were approved, the couple was married and Juanita nailed her interview at the U.S. Consulate in Mexico. She was granted permission to enter the United States as a permanent resident!

Juanita recently visited the Southwest Legal Clinic to thank us for our help. She said that without us, she and Mario would not be together. Even the hardship of her first Michigan winter cannot dim their joy of being together!


The Southwest Detroit Immigrant and Refugee Center provides free and low-cost legal services to those who need them most in the Detroit area, with a focus on recent immigrants and refugees.

We were founded in 2014 by Kevin Piecuch, our Executive Director and principal attorney, to help meet the great need for quality legal services in underserved communities. We believe that everyone deserves justice regardless of your country of origin, the color of your skin, or your ability to afford an attorney.

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Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

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