CLINIC values the dedication and commitment to service demonstrated by our member agencies in their work with their communities. We wish to highlight outstanding individual agency staff in a series of profiles that will appear each month in Catholic Legal Immigration News.
Program Director / BIA Accredited Representative
Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Assistance Services
Catholic Charities of Omaha, Nebraska
How many years have you spent working in immigration?
4.5 years (since 2008)
Why do you do this work?
It creates a positive impact on the lives of people we serve. We get to see lives changed and improved each day.
What do you love about your job?
It’s the most vibrant office work that I can imagine. I love the exposure to so many people with so many backgrounds. I’ve learned so much working through people in their times of greatest struggle – I have benefited just as much, if not more, from the people I’ve served, than anything I’ve done to assist them. Also, immigration law is always changing and therefore always engaging.
Tell me about a client’s case that has stuck with you over the years?
The most memorable cases are our U visa cases for women who have survived domestic violence and other crimes.
One client was Sandra. She married a man who she thought would be her life partner. They had three children over the years. Sandra’s husband was jealous and controlling from day one, but their relationship worsened when her husband began using drugs. Along with physical violence and abuse, Sandra’s husband began sexually abusing her. Sandra was terrified and devastated to be victimized in such a way. She also feared she would contract a sexually transmitted disease from her husband who she now viewed as an abusive stranger. Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Assistance Services (CCILAS) helped her put together a strong case.
As she waited for a response, Sandra volunteered in her community empowering women who had gone through the same kind of abuse. She also visited local retirement homes and gave manicures to Spanish-speaking women. Though Sandra had suffered, she was determined to prevail and help others along the way.
In August 2011, CCILAS received her approval notice, Sandra’s work authorization document and her Social Security Number. Sandra was at a loss for words; she was so grateful for the opportunities that awaited her. Sandra has since begun planning to start a small business with the assistance of our microbusiness department. Sandra is a perfect example of strength and perseverance.
How do you engage CLINIC?
CLINIC’s technical assistance offers that key element of support that our programs need to keep us operating. The CLINIC staff is responsive and helpful. The in-person trainings, webinars, and E-learnings offer a great variety of ways to stay current on the complex and always changing field of immigration law.