News & Views

Weekly Wins Round-Up: July 2022

Dear Friend of HIAS PA,

We have reached a milestone in immigration policy—the life-changing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, also known as DACA, celebrated its tenth anniversary in June.

DACA has been a lifeline for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as infants, children, or teens, but it isn’t nearly enough.

DACA provides some stability for the 650,000 DACA recipients and the 1.3 million people living with them; DACA recipients can get an education, find work, and live relatively normal lives, but they also carry the weight of knowing that their immigration status—and therefore their lives in the only home they’ve ever known—can be ripped away from them at a moment’s notice. With no pathway to citizenship and having to renew the restrictive status every two years, and with the policy’s legitimacy under constant debate, DACA recipients have been placed in a tenuous situation of not knowing what comes next for them.

Still, this summer we celebrate ten years of undocumented children being given “a breath of fresh air” within our highly temperamental immigration system. At HIAS PA, our Youth team works with undocumented immigrants who are eligible for immigration legal status, including DACA, and our whole staff works as a team to ensure that they find security in their immigration status and can lead safe lives as community members in Philadelphia without worrying that the rug will be pulled out from under them.

As we enjoy the remaining weeks of summer, please join me in celebrating our successes and upcoming events, including our Open House and our Advocacy Family Picnic!

Advocating for a client leads to success!

Seven years after we opened his case, my youth client was granted the right to stay in the United States!

In 2020, an immigration judge granted my youth client protection under the Convention Against Torture, and the Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA)—the legal arm of the Department of Homeland Security—immediately appealed to rescind this protection. I have been asking them to drop the appeal over the years with no success. Finally, this summer, I submitted a formal request under the new enforcement priorities and, to my pleasant surprise, OPLA withdrew the appeal!!

When I texted my client to explain that his case was finally over—a case that I began in 2015—and that he can remain in the U.S. with a work permit, he sent me the following heartwarming texts:

Omg omg omg, enserio!!!! Gracias Estefany. Es la mejor noticia que he recibido. Gracias, enserio, no me canso en repetírselo.

(“Omg omg omg, seriously!!!! Thank you, Stephanie. This is the best news that I’ve received. Thank you, seriously, I never get tired of saying it.”)

-Stephanie Lubert, Immigrant Youth Advocacy Managing Attorney

A family goes from a life of instability to thriving in their new home.

The Asylee Outreach Program received this lovely email from a client:

Dear friends,

I appreciate all of you for supporting and guiding me and my family. Four months ago my family (wife, son and daughter) landed in the USA with almost nothing, but now they have IDs, Social Security cards, food support, health insurance, and a lot of encouragement and motivation about how to live in the USA with dreams.

My daughter is going into 9th grade in high school, and she is very happy and got 94% marks in this quarter.

My son got a part time job at Rite Aid. He is also looking for admission to college or university after graduation, hopefully he will get in.

My wife had some health issues before, but now she has recovered and feels well. Thank God for all blessings.

We got all of these achievements with the support of HIAS Pennsylvania and we especially want to thank [the Asylee Outreach Program] for their time and guidance.

-Asylee Outreach Program

After sixteen years, a family receives their green cards!

This past month, a family of three that we have been working with since 2014 received their approvals as lawful permanent residents! After the family came to the United States in 2006, HIAS PA’s Director of Legal Services, Philippe Weisz, represented this family on their victims of crime visa application, and I worked with them to submit their green card applications. Now, nearly 16 years after arriving in the US, this family finally has legal immigration status. They cannot wait to visit their home country of Mexico without the fear of not being able to return to their Pennsylvania home!!!

-Vleidmy Velarde, Immigrant Victims of Crime Initiative Supervisor

Thank you for your continued support of HIAS Pennsylvania. I hope that 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—and we hope to see you at our advocacy family picnic on August 3rd and our Open House on August 17th!

In health,

Cathryn Miller-Wilson
Executive Director