Reflections on two eye-opening summer projects
CLINIC’s Communications department undertakes a wide range of tasks. As an intern in the department, I supported CLINIC’s social media presence and database organization and conducted initial research on a variety of immigration-related topics, most of them the typical assignments of an internship in the field. I did not expect, however, that my interest and passions would align so well with my work at CLINIC.
One of my most engaging project assignments was on Temporary Protected Status, or TPS. My task was to find quotes and/or excerpts on the current conditions in Syria from four sources — the State Department, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and the president — from March 2019 to present. A decision on the future of TPS for Syria is due August 1, and CLINIC is advocating for the maximum protection under the law, i.e., an 18-month extension and the redesignation of TPS. The country is experiencing ongoing war and a humanitarian crisis and the failure to grant maximum protection could put lives at risk. The recent excerpts and quotes from those four agencies shared one trait: they all spoke of the violence that is still a reality in Syria. As a communications intern, I embraced the value of using our voice and platform to bring to light the injustices done unto vulnerable populations. I am thankful for being part of this team.
As an intern, issues related to Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, are important to me because I am a TPS holder. I am also a Dreamer, as my parents and I immigrated to the United States when I was too young to remember my country of origin. I have held TPS since 2011, after a devastating natural disaster in my home country prompted the designation. Syria has had TPS since 2012, and their home is still unsafe for civilians. For the most part, TPS is a complicated matter, and the decision process should include a holistic approach and thoughtful consideration.
The year is 2019, and like many other TPS holders, I have made a home here. The possibility of losing TPS frightens me because nothing about my existence here is “temporary.” I have no other home to return to — this is my home. My family and I have tried to change status, but we have been unsuccessful. More than 12 years ago, a fraudulent lawyer or notario took advantage of my parents. On a separate occasion, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS, failed to notify my parents on missing documents. These circumstances resulted in USCIS refusing to issue green cards to me and my family in 2016. My family is trying again to obtain permanent status, but with USCIS processing delays, nothing is certain — even if we were to proceed in a timely manner.
The House Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship held a hearing addressing USCIS processing delays and the policies that caused them. The hearing consisted of two panels; the first with USCIS officials, and the second with advocates and leaders within organizations that work with immigrant-related services. It was clear the delayed processing is unacceptable, and even some representatives demanded USCIS to take accountability for its impact. Jill Marie Bussey, CLINIC’s advocacy director, showed a two-inch wide stack of paperwork demonstrating the increase in information USCIS is requesting, which contributes to slowdowns in processing and inefficiency. I had the opportunity of updating CLINIC’s social media on what was going on in this incredibly important conversation.
The work CLINIC does, and the dialogue the communications department fosters, is essential. CLINIC ensures more immigrants are protected and feel unified, they certainly made me feel less alone.