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Lenten Challenge to Welcome the Stranger

Feb 24, 2012
Kristen Lionetti

Lent is often associated with giving up those things we most enjoy.  But in the past few years, it has become one of my favorite seasons—less for what is lost and more for what is gained.  This is a season of reflection and renewal, an opportunity to refresh those perspectives we hold of self and others in our communities, nation, and world. 

A glance back at the tenets of Catholic Social Teaching reminds me of the importance of recognizing the dignity of each person, the value of solidarity, and the meaning of all people’s full participation in community.  Too often this is not the experience of the immigrant in our midst.  Many experience barriers in accessing medical care or education, do not receive just wages for their labor, or live in fear of family separation.

My few months as an intern here at CLINIC have reaffirmed the notion that this work of striving to honor the dignity of immigrants,

Pro Bono Counsel for Children in Removal

Feb 10, 2012
Laurie Joyce

In response to the desperate need for legal assistance to children in removal proceedings, the Y&H Soda Foundation funded a project with CLINIC to obtain counsel for children in California’s Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.  Finding quality pro bono legal counsel for these children is both rewarding and challenging.

One of the rewards is establishing relationships with the many talented and generous lawyers in the San Francisco area.  These lawyers often have busy practices of their own.  The myriad non-profit agencies in the bay area solicit the major law firms with a steady stream of pro bono requests for a wide range of needy people.

It is challenging to compete with so many worthy causes vying for limited pro bono resources.  It is important to explain why the firm should direct its resources to your case. 

Access to Education

Jan 27, 2012
Lauren Fisher and Michelle Mendez

Maria Jose’s father was a soldier in the Guatemalan Civil War, and it had made him a violent, angry man.  He had a drinking problem, and he beat Maria Jose, her mother, and her younger siblings. One night, Maria Jose tried to defend her mother and her father chased her out of the house with a machete. Maria Jose slept in the homes of different family members, but no one would let her stay for long.  They were all scared of what her father would do.  Maria Jose’s dream was to be a teacher and she was a good student when she could go to school.  Her aunt in Maryland agreed to take her in.  She thought her problems were over when she made it to Maryland.  She was excited when her aunt took her to enroll in the local public high school.  Then the school told her she would need to prove she had not graduated from high school in Guatemala by getting a letter from the Ministry of Education of Guatemala.  They told her that her parents could get the official documentation for her.

The Face and Voice of Unaccompanied Children

Jan 13, 2012
Vanna Slaughter

Our program joined CLINIC’s Legal Orientation Program for Custodians (LOPC) for Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) in March 2011, not really understanding the poignant experiences we would face in this program.  Since March, we have come to know the stories of 90 UAC’s in the Dallas area.  We have done our best to educate their Custodians about the complicated maze of government and private entities that are now important players in their unaccompanied child’s life. The stories these children and their custodians have shared with us have broken our hearts and moved us in ways we never imagined. 

Tania was left behind in Honduras, at the age of 7, in 2004, by her mother. Tania’s mother had been abused and threatened by Tania’s father, who was a well-known gang leader, active in drug cartel activity. 

Obama Administration Gives U.S. Citizens and their Families Hope

Jan 6, 2012
Maria M. Odom

Today, the Obama administration and the leadership at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) took a meaningful step to ameliorate the pain suffered by U.S. citizens and their immigrant family members. The government announced a new policy that would allow some eligible immigrants to stay in the U.S. while applying for their legal permanent residency.

For many years, I have encountered numerous good citizens who are surprised to learn that certain spouses and children of U.S. citizens cannot easily attain legal status. Many in our communities do not realize that immediate family members of U.S. citizens often have to travel abroad and face long and painful separation from their families in order to acquire an immigrant visa to return home. 

DOJ's Findings on the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office a Wake-up Call

Jan 3, 2012
Karen Siciliano Lucas

On December 15th, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) published its extensive factual findings of racism and discriminatory policing at the highest levels of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO).  DOJ observed that not only had racism against Latinos infiltrated almost every aspect of criminal justice in this locality, but MCSO’s bigotry had likely undermined its ability to protect public safety.  DOJ articulated serious concerns that “MCSO’s prioritization of immigration enforcement may have compromised its ability to secure the safety and security of Maricopa County residents.”  Since shifting its focus to immigration enforcement, DOJ reports, “violent crime rates have increased significantly as compared to similarly situated jurisdictions.”  DOJ announced that it will continue to investigate whether MCSO implemented its immigration enforcement “with deliberate indifference to the way in which the program compromises MCSO’s ability to provide effective policing services to Maricopa County’s residents.”

Unaccompanied Children

Dec 9, 2011
Sarah Bronstein

Several thousand children are caught by the Department of Homeland Security every year.  Just as adults in this situation would be, children are detained and placed in removal proceedings before an Immigration Judge.  Children may be released from custody but they still must fight their case in court.  Children's cases in Immigration Court are very complicated yet even children do not have the right to appointed counsel.  Finding lawyers for children poses significant challenges. Over the course of the next several weeks, we will highlight some of the efforts CLNIC is making to address these challenges.  We will hear the stories of some of these children and discuss CLINIC's Legal Orientation for Custodians project and CLINIC's efforts to recruit pro bono attorneys. 

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

Nov 24, 2011
Tessa Winkler

As many of us celebrate the start of the holiday season with loved ones this Thanksgiving, too many women silently suffer from a seasonal spike in domestic abuse.   A University of California at Berkley and UC San Diego study found a 22% increase in partner violence on Thanksgiving and a 17% increase in domestic violence on Christmas.  These statistics are especially staggering when considering that immigrant women run a significantly higher risk of being abused by a spouse than U.S. born women.    

November 25th, designated as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, invites each of us to bear in mind the plight of marginalized women around the globe.

The "Arab Spring" Causes a Surge in Egyptian Callers to the National Asylee Information and Referral Line

Nov 1, 2011
Tessa Winkler

Tweets to action and streaming images of the protests sweeping Northern Africa and Western Asia prove that the Arab Spring has forever altered life for those in the regions of unrest.  However, the toll of the Arab Spring has only begun to be witnessed in the number of asylees to the United States from these areas.  As campaigns of civil resistance spread from Tunisia to Egypt and Libya, just to name a few, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York has responded to a surge in callers to CLINIC’s National Asylee Information and Referral Line.    

New Citizen’s Milestones: My Day in Court

Oct 18, 2011
H.A. Abella

Jury duty.  While many see it as something to avoid, for naturalized citizens like me, jury duty represents an opportunity to fulfill our aspirations for integration and civic participation.

For immigrants to the U.S., citizenship is the realization of a dream; it’s the imaginary rubber-stamp that reads “you made it.” Our naturalization ceremonies provide an unanticipated eye opener, when, with our right hands raised, we immigrants realize that our rights as citizens do not come free. We learn we are expected to uphold the constitution, bear arms in case of war, and accept many other responsibilities in service to our new country.  And, for the most part, we are happy to oblige (perhaps, in part, because we think that’s the way all U.S. citizens feel about their nation deep down).