A boy who fled Guatemalan violence and his allegedly abusive father is asking a Los Angeles judge to make preliminary findings that will enable him to petition to seek permanent residency in the United States.
The boy, now 16 years old, is currently living with relatives in Monrovia and an aunt is seeking to be appointed his guardian. Court papers filed on his behalf in Los Angeles Superior Court by attorney Marlen Manzo state that the boy "grew up in a home that was full of violence and financial strife."
On occasion, the boy did not have enough food to eat and he had to start working at a young age for his father, who forced him to drop out of school and toil alongside stronger grown men, according to the Friday court filing.
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Manzo alleged the teen's father "is a habitual drunkard" who typically spent afternoons at a local bar and came home intoxicated, and that the boy's mother "abused, neglected and abandoned him."
In a sworn statement, the boy says his father "really liked alcohol and often came home very drunk" at least three to four times weekly.
"I even grew to recognize when he was arriving drunk by the sound of his car as he approached the house," the boy says.
When his father was drunk, he was aggressive, according to the teen, who said his dad forced him to plant coffee and "clean, fertilize and take care of the plants until they grew and gave fruit."
"Whenever I could, I would grab my sister and my brothers and I would lock us in a room so we would not have to endure his bad temper," the boy says. "Even then my father sometimes managed to get into the room and would start fighting with me."
The boy says his father "beat me many times" and that if something happened, his father "blamed me and would hit me with a belt."
He says that despite the alleged abuse by his father, he had to stay indoors at night because it was too dangerous outside in Guatemala, where "they kill people as if life were worthless. It was normal to see dead people lying on the street at least every eight days."
If the police came at all, the victims already were dead and officers made little effort to investigate, according to the boy, who says violence knows no boundaries in Guatemala.
"Even inside...church, they kill mothers and children," he says.
The boy says there was also violence within his family and recalled how one uncle shot another in a dispute over an inheritance.
"I clearly remember that he had a shot in the head and you could see where it went in on his hat," the boy says.
The boy, who's a junior at Monrovia High School, says he "would like to continue my studies at a university so that one day I can become a mechanical engineer."
A hearing on his case is scheduled for Sept. 14.