Over the past week we have featured guest writer Emily Guerrero. Emily, Supervising Immigration Attorney with Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Charleston, has shared her experiences since the passage of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act. Today we conclude this series as Emily tells us about the clinics she and her staff have held to help young immigrants, known as “Dreamers,” obtain temporary legal status and work authorization.
On the morning of my first clinic, in the quiet car ride there, I have to admit I teared up, thinking of this wonderful day, this opportunity to change people’s lives. I felt honored to be a part of it. Once there, the volunteers came through the doors, as did the immigrants, and the day was smooth and productive. At the end of the day, once the tables and chairs were put back into their rightful places, the physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion was heavy.
The thankfulness and gratitude of the Dreamers carried us through the exhaustion. The sincere “Thank you’s” and hugs and “God bless you’s” were an addictive boost of positive energy. Many mothers rushed to embrace us, thanking us for giving their child a long-awaited chance to succeed, to go to college. Also, the volunteers had an eye-opening experience and were stunned by the tenacity, intelligence, and authenticity of the Dreamers. It was truly a way of bringing everyone together.
Staff members and volunteers working with Dreamers to complete the necessary legal forms.
All in all, we did seven group processing clinics across the state and served almost 400 people in preparing their Dreamers applications. We had many victories, made a lot of mistakes, and learned so much. We learned that even though we are a small program, we can accomplish so much. We can think outside of the box, we can partner with other agencies and people, and we can use the resources in our communities.
I am infinitely proud of my staff, who worked so hard to make these clinics happen. I am humbled by their diligence, their perseverance, their grace under unbelievable pressure. We have the confidence now to do anything, right after we take a very long break J. I encourage all of you to challenge yourselves, get out of your comfort zone, and know that your efforts do not have to be perfect. Think big, work hard, and the results will be life-changing, both for you and for the people you serve.
Volunteers working together to insure Dreamer's forms are properly filled out.
Thank you, Emily, for sharing about your staff, the clinics, and all your hard work. It has been wonderful to learn more about our Catholic Charities Immigration Offices and the services they provide. Also- a huge thanks goes out to to all our employees and volunteers for the countless hours they have put into the clinics and processing of the paperwork in recent months. We’re so proud of their hard work and for the Dreamers who have had the courage to chase after their dreams for a better future!