Timing is Everything!

Kareem* had been waiting patiently for several months for his work permit renewal to arrive but when he was asked to be the limo driver for a special “White House” guest, he was disappointed that he was going to have to let the job go to someone else. Even though he had the documentation that proved his status was renewed, the Secret Service required proof of the actual renewed card. He thought there was nothing he could do until he got the call from his Just Neighbors lawyer, Eva Marie Carney, telling him that his new card had finally arrived- just in time!

“I’m so lucky,” he said as he came to pick up the card. He quickly sent a picture of the new card to Secret Services from the Just Neighbors office and got the White House engagement the same day.  Later that week he provided transportation services for several high-profile government leaders. He was so excited that everything came together!

“Just Neighbors, helped me a lot…the way they welcomed me and helped me and treated me with dignity was amazing. I’m running out of words in my thanks to Just Neighbors.” He hadn’t had enough money to pay for his previous lawyers, but Just Neighbors’ pro bono legal services model gave him the hand up he needed at that moment. He said, “[JN] went beyond my asking.”

Kareem had originally immigrated from Sudan to the United States in October of 1999. He grew up during a time of conflict. Sudan had the longest civil war in African history, starting in 1955, and the conflict still occurs today. This civil war, according to Kareem, has had a deep impact on the Sudanese people economically, socially, environmentally, and politically. As of April 2023, 8.2 million people have been displaced and now the global community is confronted with an unprecedented displacement crisis. He said, “We have difficulties in school, jobs, and in every area of life.”

As the oldest of seven, Kareem came to the U.S. to escape the Sudanese Civil War and to help his family financially. In 1999 he applied for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to give him the ability to work. He heard about Just Neighbors, which helped him get initial TPS, through one of his friends in Maryland. Since he makes his living as a limo driver, his TPS renewal is essential for him to be able to work.

After meeting with him last September, Just Neighbors filed to renew right away, which extended his work authorization while he waited for a decision on the applications. As was his original goal of coming to the United States, Kareem has helped two of his brothers graduate from the university and has helped his two sisters with their education through the purchase of laptops for their studies. He said, “My sisters have better jobs than their husbands. Just Neighbors doesn’t know the real impact of their help.”

* name changed for privacy


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