Queen of Consular Processing
Cynthia Ingersoll, a retired attorney, has been volunteering at Just Neighbors since October, 2008. Cynthia routinely handles green card applications for our refugee and asylee clients. Although she continues with that work, she has also stepped in to fill a pressing need. Just Neighbors had not been doing “consular processing”, which is needed when the person is overseas and trying to enter the United States. But our U-visa cases, for victims of violent crimes who cooperate with law enforcement officials, often involve clients who have children still in the home country. We asked Cynthia if she would take on shepherding those cases through the U.S. consulate abroad, and she readily agreed. (In 2010 we opened 19 consular processing cases, in contrast with 10 in 2009 and 0 in 2008). She now knows more about consular processing than any of our staff attorneys! In fact, she is mentoring a pro bono attorney from one of our supporting firms on the ins and outs of consular processing.
Cynthia helped a U-visa client (who had been the victim of a hit-and-run accident while riding his bike from work) bring his children to the United States. She has since gone to their home weekly to tutor the children in English. She writes, “I offered to teach the three kids a little English before school started last fall and ended up as an honorary grandmother. They are great kids; their grandma did a good job with them. They are doing well in school and enjoying it. Luckily, they are in schools with very high Hispanic populations, so the adjustment was not as hard as it could have been. They are learning English rapidly. Mom has started taking English classes, too.”
Cynthia scrounged up a computer for the children to have for their school work. She has also taken them on outings to the Washington Monument, the DC Aquarium, and the Museum of Natural History. We thank Cynthia for taking the time to not only provide legal assistance to newcomers, but also for welcoming them so hospitably to their new land.
New to the Board
We are pleased to welcome Taka Fujiu to our Board of Directors. Taka, a patent attorney at Morrison & Foerster law firm in Tyson’s Corner, has volunteered for over a year at Just Neighbors community clinics in both Herndon and Falls Church. Since then, his firm has established a partnership with our organization, with attorneys at Morrison & Foerster taking on cases pro bono. We look forward to Taka’s contributions to the Board and to his help in strengthening our relationship with Morrison & Foerster.
Around the Office
Just Neighbors is excited to announce its expansion into Prince William County! This month, Just Neighbors held a community clinic at St. Paul United Methodist Church in Woodbridge on a Saturday morning. The church organized the event and arranged for twelve volunteers to work alongside the entire Just Neighbors legal team. Together we served clients in the community from around the world with a variety of immigration legal issues. The church has also offered for Just Neighbors staff attorneys to meet with clients there during the week, and we have begun doing so.
Prince William County has become a difficult place for immigrants to live over the past several years, with harsh local anti-immigrant laws creating fear and a sense of isolation among many immigrants in the area. Moreover, there is a dearth of resources for low-income immigrants needing legal assistance in the county. It is heartening to see a church step forward to become a place of hope for immigrants who seek to understand how U.S. immigration laws can help them unify with their families, escape from households of domestic violence, and attain authorization to work. We are excited to see where this partnership will lead. Immigrants in Prince William County seeking an appointment should contact Just Neighbors’ main phone at (703) 979-1240.
A windy day at the Just Neighbors site at St. Paul United Methodist Church in Woodbridge.
Volunteer of the Month
We are glad to honor volunteer attorney Grace Remington as our Volunteer of the Month. Grace, a graduate of Duquesne Law School, started volunteering at Just Neighbors at the end of 2010. She now has regular office hours and her own caseload, including cases with refugees and asylees who are applying for green cards, U-visas, and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) cases. During her free hours Grace continues to look for full-time employment to begin her legal career. In the meantime, we are grateful to have her enthusiasm and hard work on behalf of our clients.