August Update

Client Story

“I’m no longer a child and cannot be dependent on my parents.  My father, our main supporter of our family, is chronically ill with kidney failure, which requires a lot of expenses.  I plan to go to college this upcoming year and need to have a way to provide for myself away from home. It would be impossible for me to start my own life and be of any benefit to society after I graduate from high school if I don’t have employment authorization since I won’t be able to engage myself, or even start a career.”

The above statement was written by a sixteen year-old girl who is applying for “deferred action” with the help of Just Neighbors.  Each applicant must write a statement about why they would like authorization to work in the United States.

August has been a month like no other at Just Neighbors, with the application process opening on August 15th for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA’s).   Beginning this month, immigrants ages 15-30 who have no legal papers, have lived in the U.S. for at least five years, came here before the age of 16, and kept a clean record became eligible to apply for a work permit and to receive deferred action, which prevents their deportation.

Within 24 hours after the application process opened, Just Neighbors had schedule 77 clients for an appointment, and we are now close to 300 appointments scheduled.  A study from the Immigration Policy Center estimates that more than 14,000 Virginians are immediately eligible for deferred action, with more eligible each month as they turn fifteen.

Our first DACA clients

Volunteer of the Month

Some of the volunteers helping with DACA cases.  The post-its (and volunteers they represent) are paired up with clients as they arrive.

This month, Just Neighbors would like to recognize the 30+ volunteers who have stepped up to assist during regular office hours with DACA cases.  We were originally worried about getting enough  volunteers during work hours, but people throughout the community have been eager to help, with many volunteers rearranging their work and childcare schedules. A typical day this month has involved eight volunteers in the office assisting four clients at a time for ninety minutes.  With 3-4 shifts of clients per day, this has allowed us to serve more than 12 clients most days with just two supervising staff attorneys.

One volunteer’s email captures the enthusiasm: “I was so excited when I first heard the news (about deferred action) that I cried.  I really would love to do this.  I’ll start feeling out all the grandparents to see what their schedules are like for childcare so that I can come eight hours per week!”

Client Letter

“You have no idea how much your dedication in truly helping me and the time that you spent in pursuing my case meant to me.  I’m pleased with the outstanding legal service you have provided and am thankful to you for making a huge impact on my son’s life!  Wish you and your team continued success!”

More Information

To learn more about deferred action for childhood arrivals, including a list of FAQ’s, visit the USCIS website here.  If you’d like to help with this effort at Just Neighbors, email Rob Rutland-Brown at rob@justneighbors.org.

[1] Featured Image American Flag by Antalya1997 published under Creative Commons

Just Neighbors Primary Signature-Reverse-01

The mission of Just Neighbors is to provide immigration legal services to low-income immigrants and refugees in Virginia, especially those who are most vulnerable. We also seek to foster enriching experiences that enhance awareness and mutual understanding among our clients, volunteers, staff and community.

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