The Case for Asylum: A Child's Long, Lonely Trek

The Case for Asylum: A Child's Long, Lonely Trek

"The caseworker handed Rheinheimer a thick, white, oversized envelope.  It was addressed to Rodriguez, care of Rheinheimer.

Rheinheimer knew what it was the moment she saw it.  Only the winning asylum applications come back in the big envelopes.  Denials come in thin envelopes.

She let it sink in, the mixture of happiness and relief.  The thick envelope meant that against the odds, the U.S. government believed Rodriguez deserved protection.

"I don't think there were too many people who would have placed bets on things working out for him," she said.  "Kids like that, it's amazing to me that they get it into their heads that it's worth trying for something, when all their lives, people have told them they're not worth anything."·

Rheinheimer and a coworker drove to Port Isabel in her white Mazda to pick up Rodriguez.  In the parking lot, he seemed to be in shock. He kept saying: "Thank you."

He had nowhere to go.

Rheinheimer dropped him off at a shelter run by nuns in a rural stretch of San Benito." - Susan Carroll, Houston Chronicle, Aug. 2, 2014.

- Laura Rheinheimer; photo by Marie D. De Jesus