Friday, October 19, 2012

Immigration Series- Part 3

Today we continue our series written by Emily Guerrero, Supervising Immigration Attorney for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Charleston. Please join us as we learn more about how Emily and her staff are helping “Dreamers” apply for temporary lawful status and work authorization since the enactment of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act (DACA).

The days and months passed, and we readied ourselves for the group processing clinics. Nights and weekends blurred together as we prepared the curriculum, recruited and trained volunteers, and drafted informational materials. Mily, Vanessa, and Blenda spent their weekends doing massive amounts of outreach, spreading the word about the Dreamers relief and how to apply. Weekdays, the phones rang until our ears bled, and potential Dreamers streamed in the doors and filled our waiting rooms. We begged for volunteers to help answer the phones. The workload was weighty, and the stress even crept into our beds, stealing sleep like a merciless thief.

Bright spots abounded as we trained volunteers in Charleston, Hilton Head, and Greenville. I used law students from the Charleston School of Law and was moved by their energy, their enthusiasm. Vanessa used students from Furman and partnered with Alianza Hispana, a local Hispanic advocacy group. Mily used volunteers from a local volunteer group. A handful of wonderful private immigration attorneys joined in our efforts. We were humbled by these volunteers, giving of their time and expertise solely for the joy of service.
We planned to do seven group processing clinics around the state. As the group processing clinics neared, we geared up our copy machines and copied our clinic materials until smoke rose up from the machines. The piles of materials and office supplies cluttered our already-cluttered offices. Finally, we were ready, and luckily, our good friends, adrenaline and caffeine, were coming to the clinics too.

Volunteers, staff and Dreamers working to complete the paperwork for temporary lawful status and work authorization.

Wow- it’s tiring just reading about all that you and your staff have done, Emily! We still desperately need volunteers in our legal services offices. If you are bilingual and interested in volunteering, please call 843-402-9115, ext. 15 or 45.

This series will continue on Monday, so be sure to check back at the blog to read more from Emily! If you would like to read past posts from this series or learn more about Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Charleston’s response to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act, please click here. To donate your time or money, please visit our website here.

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