Weekly Wins Round-up: April 2023
This election month, many members of HIAS PA’s staff turned to advocacy at events around the city and state. They advocated for work authorization, anti-trafficking efforts, affordable housing, legal representation for immigrant families, and driver’s licenses for all. They worked in collaboration with other immigrant-serving organizations to ensure that the immigrant voting population could meet with mayoral and other candidates running for office in Philadelphia, and more! HIAS PA staff also attended clothing drives for Haitian women and health clinics for Ukrainians, and organized cultural tours for clients. I could not be prouder of our staff and their tireless efforts to make Pennsylvania a more welcoming place for immigrants.
I was also delighted to see everyone who came out to support HIAS PA at the sold out 2023 Golden Door Awards on Thursday, April 20th, as we celebrated and honored those who lead the way in support of immigrants and refugees!
Read on to learn more about our recent successes!
Two more proud US citizens!
My very proud and excited client and her son became citizens last week! My client was an attorney in her home country of Ecuador. Her loss of autonomy and financial stability as a result of the domestic violence perpetrated by her US citizen spouse was really devastating for her.
She is working now as a caseworker at a facility where unaccompanied youth are housed. I am really proud of how far she has come, especially considering that most of her time in the US has been during the pandemic, and I am hopeful for her future.
-Domestic Violence Initiative Co-Managing Attorney
Classmates inspire one another to take another step towards freedom!
A student in my Adult English as a Second Language (ESL) course excitedly shared that she got her driver learner’s permit. The class was so happy for her, and another student asked for her advice because he has been hoping to get his permit as well. Everyone sent him study tips, applications to use, and encouragement. He came in the next week and thanked everyone for their help—he had used their tips and got his permit before the next class!
-Eliana Stanislawski, Adult ESL Instructor and Citizenship Instruction Coordinator
An Afghan youth is granted asylum!
My 18-year-old Afghan youth client was granted asylum! He is Hazara, and his father was an Imam, as well as a leader in the provincial government, who had been kidnapped and imprisoned by the Taliban for his work.
My client is a very understated, soft-spoken person, so giving him the news and hearing the excitement and relief in his voice was especially meaningful. We filed for asylum back in August, and we got a decision relatively quickly. It is bittersweet as I watch my Central American clients sit in a never-ending asylum backlog, but I am very grateful to have this win after three years at HIAS PA.
-Naomi Iser, Esq., Immigrant Youth Advocacy Program Staff Attorney
The lasting impact of HIAS PA’s work
This month, the Youth team participated in Philly’s first Anti-Child Trafficking Symposium, and a Youth team client became the newest member of the Anti-Child Trafficking Coalition’s Youth Survivor Advisory Board!
A woman on the street saw me struggling to parallel park when I arrived at this event, and came over to help me. When I said I was attending an anti-trafficking event, she shared that she herself is a survivor of trafficking, so I invited her to the event. When I sat down at the HIAS PA table, the woman got very excited and shared that HIAS PA helped with her immigration case 17 years ago! Because of HIAS PA, she escaped trafficking, got her work permit, went to school to become a nurse, and is able to give her son a better life. A proud moment for HIAS PA!
-Stephanie Lubert, Immigrant Youth Advocacy Program Managing Attorney
I hope these wins from HIAS PA staff give you a lift, as they do me. Look out for more wins at the beginning of next month!