This month we want to share with you Johan's story. Johan came with his family from the U.K. when he was just a child. He has been a Legal Permanent Resident most of his life. When he was a young adult, he became an alcoholic. This caused him many problems, some of which landed him in jail on several criminal charges.
Five years ago, he was detained and held by ICE and put in deportation proceedings. This is when his family reached out to us and asked for him to be represented by Leslie Diaz, our removal defense immigration attorney. It was not an easy case due to multiple criminal convictions that Johan had stemming from his alcohol addiction. Leslie was able to get the immigration court to grant Johan a bond, after which his immigration case was delayed for a number of years.
Understanding the risks for him and his family and fully committed to a recovery and change in his life, Johan used this time to make a significant change for the better. He completed inpatient and outpatient rehab programs, joined AA, stuck to the program successfully, got completely sober and has been volunteering and helping his community for over 5 years now. Not only has Johan changed his own life for the better, but he has improved the lives of many others by acting as a sponsor, doing outreach to the AA community, and sharing his story to inspire others in their road to recovery.
Through it all, Johan knew that there was very good chance he could still be deported and sent away from the only home that he has ever known from a very young age. His immediate family is all in the U.S. and he does not have family support back in his country of birth. His case was assigned to one of the toughest judges on the Atlanta Immigration Court. But after listening to Johan tell his story at his final hearing this fall, the judge said that he was extremely moved by Johan's rehabilitation and he allowed Johan to keep his green card and go home to his family.
Now Johan is in the process of becoming a U.S. citizen. He is the perfect example that with determination, hard work and the right support and people by his side, a life can change for the better. One person's struggle can also help and inspire other people and the entire community.