As we enter into this third week of Advent, it is important to recall what we celebrated on Gaudete or Rejoice Sunday. The first two readings this Sunday spoke of joy and the joyful anticipation that all of us now have for the arrival of Christmas and the birth of Jesus. In fact, this year has been filled with many moments of joyful anticipation.
The calendar year began with a proposed new process for unlawful presence waivers for certain immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. Families that would have had long separations waiting for their waiver applications to be approved will now spend that time together. These families are joyfully anticipating the final process to be announced.
This summer, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) process was also announced,
allowing certain young people to remain in the country for two years with employment authorization. Everyone joyfully awaited the application process that began on August 15th and hundreds of thousands of young people are now awaiting DACA approvals. The past months have left many immigrants feeling a sense of eagerness as they anxiously seek the next step in making their dreams come true.
Although there is much to be joyful for, Sunday’s gospel also has a reminder from St. John the Baptist about the work that still needs to be done. The same is true for those of us working in immigration legal services. Yes, there are many things to be joyful for this year, but there is also still much for us to do. Consider what you can do to help achieve comprehensive immigration reform with advocacy efforts or volunteering in your area. Reflect on what you can do, whether it be visiting detainees that may not have family members that can visit them or assisting at a group-processing workshop for naturalization or DACA applications. Consider contributing funds to help defray the cost of an immigration application for someone who would otherwise not be able to apply for relief. So as we rejoice in the progress made in 2012 and in the excitement of the new year, let us all make sure to continue the work that has to be done.
*Michelle is a Field Support Corrdinator for CLINIC's Center for Citizenship and Immigrant Communities