News & Views

Weekly Wins Round-up: November 2020

Last week, in the midst of the global pandemic and increasingly harsh barriers to immigration, we gave thanks. Thanks for the continued health of family and friends; thanks for recovery; thanks for being able to stop for a moment to take a breath and come together – even if virtually – to share a meal and reflect on this past year.

As we near the end of the year, I am constantly amazed by the strength and resilience of immigrants in the United States, especially HIAS PA’s incredible clients. Our clients face seemingly insurmountable obstacles every day, and manage to overcome them with grace and strength.

None of this would be possible without HIAS PA’s staff and donors. Your patience, hard work, and support are what have kept HIAS Pennsylvania going for nearly 140 years. I am so thankful for you. I am, as always, elated to be able to share a glimpse into what we can all accomplish if we work together as a team.

1. Client perseveres through abuse, divorce, and a custody battle, and gets her green card.

Almost exactly two years after filing to divorce her abusive husband, my client just received her green card! Not only did she persevere through extreme abuse by her US citizen husband, a custody battle, and relocating to another state hours away with her small child to get away from her abuser, she also advocated for herself at work when her difficult employer kept asking when she was going to get her green card, and at the USCIS office, all during a pandemic. I’m so excited that she can now breathe a sigh of relief and start working on her citizenship application!

-Maya N., Accredited Representative


2. High school student excels in his first Advanced Placement classes, gets an A on a paper.

This week, one of our Syrian high school students got a 100% on a paper for his AP English class! He has challenged himself this year by taking two AP classes (his first ever) and, with the help of his mentors and our SAT instructor, got a perfect score on this paper. I am so proud of his hard work and grateful to our mentors and instructors for supporting him!

-Michelle Ferguson, Education Access Coordinator


3. Clients will be warm for the winter thanks to donor-driven coat drive.

Thank you so much to the Refugee Resettlement and Placement (R&P) team for meeting donors dropping off coats for our coat drive! Organizing a drive like this is a little extra complicated during this time. Also, a big kudos to my intern Catherine Kim for overseeing it all! We got our first drop off today of 70+ coats! Thank you to St Mary’s Episcopal Church in Ardmore; Or Hadash; Old York Road Temple-Beth Am; Or Zarua; and Lower Merion Synagogue for donating coats.

-Kerry Coughlin, Community Engagement Specialist

4. Clients win strong cases with the help of HIAS PA lawyers.

I had a couple of cool wins this week! First, a young man whose case I inherited from another lawyer got a request for evidence on his application for a green card as an abuse survivor. He had survived childhood abuse, and had gotten into some trouble with the juvenile justice system as a teenager. As a result, Immigration was questioning his application. He worked really hard to get the evidence that we needed and we put together a strong response. His green card application was approved this week!


I also found out that another client won her affirmative asylum case. This was the very first case I took as a new lawyer at HIAS PA just over a year ago. She had her asylum interview in Newark in March, the day before the office closed due to the pandemic! She came as an unaccompanied minor fleeing gang violence and then survived an additional workplace assault here in the US as a teenager. She is an incredible person and I am so excited for her.

-Joanna G., Staff Attorney

Thank you for your continued support of HIAS Pennsylvania. I hope that these Weekly Wins from HIAS PA staff have given you a lift, as they do me. Look out for more wins at the beginning of next month!

In health,

Cathryn Miller-Wilson