News & Views

Weekly Wins Round-up: June 2023

Dear Friend,

We had a busy month celebrating Immigrant Heritage Month with you at our Family Advocacy Picnic, and at the United for Immigrants benefit concert.

At the concert, I spoke about the migrant buses that Governor Abbott from Texas continues to send from the southern border and the critical need for work authorization for those legally in our country. In honor of our proud immigrant heritage, please call your legislator every day and ask for automatic work authorization upon receipt of authorization to enter the country.

Read on for all that is worth celebrating in our immigrant community!

Thank you for celebrating Immigrant Heritage Month with HIAS PA!

At our Family Advocacy Picnic at the beginning of the month, we learned together how kids and adults alike can advocate for immigrants, and then put that into action by writing postcards to our legislators and President Biden.

Later in the month, it was lovely to see all of your smiling faces at the Philadelphia Ethical Society for our sold-out—and packed!—United for Immigrants benefit concert! Thank you once again to the musicians who donated their time and talents, to the Ethical Society for donating their lovely space so that we could share this moment in time with you, and to you, for celebrating the diversity that makes our community beautiful. We look forward to more community events in the future!

Cathryn Miller-Wilson with Jennifer Montone of the Philadelphia Orchestra

Connecting immigrants with legal services all around the United States

As you may know, successfully connecting a client with legal services is no easy task! For this reason, I am super excited to share that a client of mine who was released to her sponsor in Memphis, TN, has successfully obtained a lawyer to represent her in her immigration case, through Advocates for Immigrant Rights. Over the past few months, HIAS PA’s Youth Team has also connected a 15-year-old trafficking victim with Pisgah Legal Services in his new home state of North Carolina; two more children in Columbus, Ohio, with Moritz College of Law; and one in Charlotte, NC, with Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy.

We also recently had a minor who was released to his sponsor in Connecticut from Office of Refugee Resettlement custody, just prior to his 18th birthday. Not only did we work really hard to facilitate the release of this minor before turning 18 years old, but we also were able to refer his case to the Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants, and they found an attorney to represent his case!

-Emily Augenbraun, Know Your Rights Case Specialist

English as a Second Language students advocate!

In Advanced ESL, my students brainstormed various crises the government should take responsibility for, and then took on the role of government official and shared their plans for handling the crisis. Here are their brilliant responses—they should really be our elected leaders!

-Rachel Aistrop, Adult Education Lead Instructor

Student 1: Shortages

  1. Communicate and inform the people about the shortage in a way that people should not be shocked and lose hope to rush towards the markets, which will create new issues. We need to inform the people about the scarcity and shortage of the specific material and ask them to maintain enough material for their use during a specific period of time based on estimations and forecasts.
  2. Next step is to find different alternative options and ways for the supply of the shortage material. Even we have to find another option for the fulfillment of the citizens for the specific item.
  3. Control the market price and supply chain to make sure people can survive by finding enough material and alternative options. This can be done through announcements on media, municipality cooperation and social welfare entities and private sector.

Student 2: Natural Disaster (cyclone, tornado, flood, tsunami)

Solution: The government must let the people know in any means, through phones and keep on broadcasting through radios, televisions with updates. If there’s need, do evacuation and yes, there must be a shelter or a place to keep all the people being evacuated along with food and water.

Student 3: When the area is chemically contaminated.

  1. Inform people about the potential affected area.
  2. Instruct people to stay indoors or those outside to run away perpendicular to the wind.
  3. If there is a need to take some decontaminating substances internally.
  4. Tell people what foods and water are contaminated in what areas. Do not use them.
  5. Conduct explanatory work among the population so that there is no panic.

Student 4: School shootings

  1. Prohibit the use of weapons
  2. More security in entrances and exit of each school
  3. Metal detector and entrances and exits
  4. Physical and emotional help

Liberian refugee gets his green card!

I recently went to a green card interview with a client who had applied through the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness program back in 2020, but whose case had not yet received a decision. There were some complications with his documents, but we were able to obtain corrected versions. During the green card interview, the immigration officer said that my client met all the eligibility criteria for the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness program, and should expect his green card in the next week or two. He also reminded the client that his legal permanent resident status will be backdated to 2005, when he originally arrived in the U.S., and that he will therefore be eligible to naturalize upon receipt of his green card, and he encouraged him to become a U.S. citizen promptly.

The grin on my client’s face was ear to ear as he shook the officer’s hand and thanked him. As we left the office he said he couldn’t believe how much lighter he felt, like his life is really starting in earnest! He’s eager to start college while he continues to work full time, and aspires to become an engineer.

-Pamela Roberts, Citizenship and Family Unification Staff 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!

In health,

Cathryn Miller-Wilson
Executive Director