June 01, 2009
Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services
Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services, Portland, OR
Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services provides legal representation in most areas of immigration law, including asylum, family based immigration, removal defense, representation of victims of domestic violence, and naturalization. The organization furthers the public interest by providing direct legal assistance to immigrants—particularly those who are most vulnerable, including victims of violence and persecution.
Receiving a stipend allowed me to work for an organization whose mission I firmly believe in—to promote social justice for newcomers to our country by providing immigration legal services to immigrants and refugees. I chose to work with Catholic Charities because of my commitment to advocating for the rights of an often maligned and overlooked sector of society. As a child of immigrants, I feel a sense of duty to work on behalf of people who may not have the financial means or the knowledge of the complex immigration laws of our country to do so for themselves.
As a summer clerk I assisted in the general immigration caseload of the attorneys and helped to present pro-bono trainings on immigration benefits available to survivors of domestic violence. I spent a majority of the summer preparing U visa applications. The U visa is a benefit that was created in 2000 by Congress to help victims of violent crime. Catholic Charity U visa clients are mostly survivors of domestic violence, many times with children who also will derive legal status from their parent’s application. In most cases, the U status application is the client’s only avenue for legalizing their status here.
From the first day I began work at Catholic Charities, I had direct client contact. In the short time I was there I was able to see how the work I was doing affected peoples’ lives. If it were not for the assistance of a PILP stipend I would not have been able to spend my summer working at Catholic Charities.