Joseph was only three years old when he remembers hearing loud noises outside of his house in Somalia. His home had been bombed and his family fled for their lives. When relatives came back for Joseph he was severely injured and almost became deaf. His parents were nowhere to be found and Joseph’s extended family could not confirm whether they were alive or dead. Because of the imminent danger in Somalia, his family members made Joseph a false passport and sent him as a refugee to live with family friends in Holland.
When Joseph was 11 years old, he was reunited with his aunt who was living in the United States where he was able to successfully apply for asylum based on the political persecution that his family suffered in Somalia. Fortunately, his case was approved and Joseph was able to pursue the education that his family had dreamed of in the United States.
Now 24 years old, Joseph came to Just Neighbors for help in obtaining his citizenship. Accompanied by his Just Neighbors attorney, Joseph recently had his citizenship interview and his case was approved! Despite his nervousness, Joseph answered every citizenship question correctly. He is currently waiting for his oath ceremony. This case has been bittersweet because Joseph’s aunt recently passed away. She would have been very happy to see her nephew become a United States Citizen.
Despite the difficulties of being hearing impaired, Joseph is working hard in a part time job and actively pursuing his degree in Information Technology. It has been a pleasure working with him.
Just Neighbors is undertaking an ambitious project to better assess the outcome of our services. We are conducting a phone interview with all clients whose cases were closed in 2011. This includes quantitative questions, whose answers we will compare to data we have from when the client originally came to us, such as income level, employment, experience of domestic violence, and unification with family members. It also includes more qualitative questions about the impact our work has had on their lives. We hope to use this information to better understand the long-term outcomes of our services.
In one recent phone interview, a former client said the following:
“I am doing fine and my daughter is taller and bigger. She is ten years old and an honor roll student. Unfortunately I got laid off work so I am still looking for a job. It is always wonderful to hear from Just Neighbors. Say hello to my lawyers Ms. Allison and Ms. Sarah. Your support for others is so amazing and makes a big change for people. It is extremely important to become legal for future opportunities. Love you guys and your service is excellent. Appreciate for everything you have done for me.”
Around the Office
As of today, Just Neighbors has submitted 144 applications for deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA’s). This spans a six-week period beginning in mid-August, when Immigration began accepting the applications. In addition, we have 40 applications that will be submitted once the clients bring the remaining required documents to accompany their application.
Just Neighbors is proud to share its new strategic plan. The board and staff, with assistance from an outside consultant, have spent most of 2012 developing this plan, which has undergone numerous drafts. It includes three main components: 1) operational goals, including an annual 10 percent increase in the number of clients to be served and a commitment to reaching immigrants who are most vulnerable; 2) communications goals, to ensure that Just Neighbors is reaching the clients we prioritize, can raise necessary funding, and can inform the Northern Virginia community about immigration issues and our work; 3) goals related to revenue enhancement. You can see the plan on our website here.
Check out this 4-minute documentary about two Just Neighbors clients by the well-respected German news agency Deutsche-Welle.
Volunteer of the Month
We are thankful for the help of volunteer attorney Joe Keyes over the past two months. Joe, a recently retired attorney, learned of us through St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Arlington. He has been a huge help in our deferred action cases for childhood arrivals, conducting more than a dozen intake interviews and assisting with form completion. We look forward to long-term help from Joe, as he is also beginning to assist with U-visa cases.
Quote of the Month
“There are clearly problems with the telephone intake report. First and foremost is the number of calls in August. It’s impossibly high and I’m at a loss at how to understand it. I need to investigate.”
-Bill Stuart, our data guru who volunteers off-site in Colorado, reacting to our call volume in August. The previous high for one month was 195 calls for assistance; August’s total was 476. Bill investigated and confirmed its accuracy. None of us who were IN the office in August were surprised, as we were inundated with calls from young immigrants seeking deferred action.