The May issue of D Magazine is now available online. It includes my story about CitySquare's LAW Center (click here, read, and enjoy).
Charles Johnson has a knack for finding students in need. During his 15 years as a security worker at North Dallas High School, he has taken in 39 teenagers who had nowhere else to go. He allows them to stay at his Oak Cliff home, where he lives with his mother. He’s a man of simple means who believes in helping others. One morning, he found one of his most recent tenants.
Ariel came to the United States from Honduras. He joined his sister and her 2-year-old daughter. His sister was deported after stealing food to feed them. Scared and alone, Ariel started looking for help. When Johnson saw him, he could tell he was hungry and in trouble. Ariel barely spoke English, but he tried his best to explain the situation. He had come here to escape a drug gang that had killed two family members. The gang shot up their house and was looking for him. Ariel was going to be sent back, which meant certain death.
Johnson doesn’t make much money. What little he earns goes to cover the cost of caring for his students. He didn’t know how he could afford an attorney. Johnson first went to a large law firm. They were sympathetic but couldn’t immediately take the case. To keep Ariel in the country, a family court first needed to award Johnson conservatorship, which required written permission from the parents in Honduras. But Johnson couldn’t find them, and the order needed to be issued before Ariel turned 18, only days away.