News & Views

Weekly Wins Round-up: September 2022

Dear Friend,

Haiti. Myanmar. Afghanistan. Ukraine. Venezuela.

Clients have come to us from all of these countries in the past month, all seeking support with asylum petitions, refugee resettlement processes, human rights abuses, and so much more. The whole country watches in horror as human beings in Texas and Florida are being used as political pawns and unceremoniously bussed and flown up from the southern border to a place where they were promised that jobs, homes, and secure lives would be waiting. And, even worse, the US Government is paying for some of this with our tax dollars. But contrary to popular headlines, the crisis is not a crisis of immigration, it’s a crisis of immigration policy.

Current federal law keeps asylum seekers and those eligible for legal status vulnerable by failing to issue work authorization until six or more months after petitions are filed. Between decades of birth rate decline, mortality rate incline, baby boomer retirements and increasing anti-immigrant policies, we need immigrants—and common sense policies that support them rather than oppressing them—more than ever. This election day, remember to support those who would support immigration reform—to help yourselves as much as those currently rendered vulnerable by our own government.

Meanwhile, not always knowing where our clients will arrive from—or when, or under what circumstances—means we have to be able to pivot quickly on a regular basis. In crisis and in calm, your support allows our staff to immediately respond to any needs that arise for our clients, including providing critical legal support.

We look forward to continuing to partner with you—engaging in the critical work of advocating for just, equitable, and common sense immigration policies and humane treatment—particularly at this time of year when, for Jews the world over, we reflect on the past year and recommit ourselves to doing better—more love, more patience, more generosity, more welcoming to one another.  Please join me in celebrating the successes you helped to make possible, and join us for our upcoming events, including our Tikkun Olam (“repairing the world”) Volunteer Appreciation Awards on October 19th at noon.

A HIAS PA attorney’s first naturalization client—becomes a citizen!

My first naturalization client, Mahmoud H. (pictured above), took the Oath and became a proud, new U.S. citizen! Mahmoud came to the U.S. in 2014 with his mom and his two sisters. His mom obtained asylee status and naturalized two years ago, but Mahmoud turned 18 shortly before his mom naturalized, so he needed to apply for citizenship on his own.

It was an emotional day for both of us, as I realized that it was the 6th anniversary of the day I moved to Vermont to go to law school and start preparing for my career as an immigration lawyer.

-Pamela Roberts, Citizenship and Family Unification Team Staff Attorney

Trained chef, a survivor of domestic abuse, participates in Venezuelan festival!

One of our domestic violence survivor clients participated in a Venezuelan festival selling her own empanadas, arepas, and other goodies! She is a trained chef and has been making amazing strides over the past year. She gave me the biggest hug when I saw her at the festival! It was amazing to see her so happy and empowered! Her Violence Against Women Act petition was approved recently, so this client is on her way to getting her green card. It’s too rare in our specific work that we get to see our clients in their element and thriving, so this was really a joy. She was sold out of arepas and empanadas by the time I got there but the tres leches was amazing!

-Domestic Violence Initiative Staff Attorney

Client receives the right to remain in the US with his family!

My 23-year-old Guatemalan client had his removal proceedings indefinitely suspended! He had a challenging asylum case based on abuse that occurred when he was a child. After my request for prosecutorial discretion was ignored, I filed a motion for administrative closure in early June. I just found out that the motion was granted! This is a huge relief and a massive victory for my client. It means he can keep renewing his Employment Authorization Document, which he needs to support his partner and their 2-year-old daughter, and he can breathe easier knowing that his removal proceedings are closed. Given the near impossible odds that he would have won his asylum case, this is the best outcome imaginable.

-Naomi Iser, Immigrant Youth Advocacy Staff Attorney

College student, mother, and survivor of domestic abuse receives her green card!

My client, a survivor of domestic abuse who was brought to the US by her abusive father, received her green card this week! I started to represent her in 2017. Her case was relatively complicated, since she entered on a fraudulent visa. I argued that her husband (her abuser) and her father, who was also abusive, had actually committed the fraud, and bringing her to the US was part of the scheme of abuse in this case. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services waived my client’s adjustment interview and approved the waiver and green card. My client, who is in college now and independently caring for her 3-year-old son, was over the moon about the news and gave me a big, big hug when she picked up the card. This win brought me a lot of joy and reminded me why I do this work.

-Domestic Violence Initiative Managing Attorney

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!

In health,

Cathryn Miller-Wilson
Executive Director