“Asylum granted.” Those words changed Besong Linus’ life.
Besong is from a village in Southern Cameroon. He is a husband and father of four children. As a young man, Besong dreamed of attending college, but could not afford it. Instead, he supported his family by selling pineapples and plantains.
During a time of socio-political unrest in Cameroon, armed government soldiers invaded the family home and arrested Besong in front of his wife and children. The soldiers handcuffed him, chained his feet, and dragged him to a government camp. For 10 days, soldiers kicked, beat, and threatened to kill Besong to force him to admit to supporting separatist fighters. Claims that were false. Eventually, Besong’s family collected enough money to pay for his release and they immediately went into hiding. One morning as Besong was fetching water, soldiers located his family in the woods. Frustrated that they did not find Besong, the soldiers hauled away his brother and two workers. All three men were found dead days later. The soldiers then returned to the village and set the family’s home on fire.
Besong’s only chance at survival was to flee Cameroon. That is when he started his nearly year-long journey to the United States.
Once in El Paso, DMRS attorney Marina Chavez began representing Besong. Nearly three years after his arrival in the U.S., an immigration judge finally granted him asylum.
“His reaction was one of relief,” said Chavez. “He knew that he was safe and that his family would be safe.”
Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services, Inc. (DMRS) is the largest provider of free immigration-related legal services in West Texas and New Mexico. In 2022, DMRS served nearly 32,000 people from 55 countries.
Besong’s story is just one example of the possibilities for asylum seekers when we welcome with dignity and show them #YouBelong. Your donation to DMRS this El Paso Giving Day makes these outcomes possible.