Friday, May 25, 2007


This week has been very busy. I have two new clients, that I met with on Tuesday. One is filing a petition for his step-daughter to come here, the other is filing for herself based on the Violence Against Women Act. VAWA lets abused spouses and children of US Citizens and legal permanent residents file immigration petitions for themselves. This means that the victim does not have to rely on the abuser to file petitions with immigration. VAWA petitions are close to my heart. I worked on two last semester while I interned here and they are emotional cases but at the same time can be very rewarding. I like helping victims of domestic violence get part of their life back.

I also met with my other client, that I talked about in the last post. I told him about how long it could take for his children to come over to the US, and I thought my heart would break when I saw the look on his face!! It's so disheartening to want to help people and have the delay be so long!

Lastly, I get to help organize and plan for an ILCM table at the World Refugee Day, which should be interesting. Sitting at information booths can be a lot of fun...though usually it is more interesting if there are a lot of people there to ask questions.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

My first full week

So I jumped into my first full week at ILCM yesterday. More like dove into it. Yesterday was pretty mellow, I did some follow-up stuff from my cases that I had over the semester, had a pot-luck lunch with the people here, which happened to fall on my first day (I never say no to free food). Because I was still waiting to hear back from some potential clients I didn't have much to do. I also helped Cindy with some clients she had down in Worthington when she was there last week. I did send out letters a few weeks ago to potential clients and one of them followed up rather quickly. He speaks Amharic, he is from Ethiopia and does not speak much English. But, that didn't stop him from leaving a message on Cindy's voicemail for me (in Amharic except for the beginning where he said, "I need an Amharic translator" in rather clear English). Just as Cindy was telling me about the message, our receptionist came in and told me that the Amharic-speaking client was waiting to see me. I get the impression that he wants to start working on his case as soon as possible. Since we don't have an Amharic translator on hand, I had to frantically figure out what to do. But, the problem did get solved, our volunteer translator was able to come in later in the morning and he helped translate beautifully.

So, I spent most of the morning figuring out how to do an I-130, which is an immigration petition for family members of US citizens or Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs). He wants to file them for his children who are currently living in Kenya. It is a very sad story, and I can't help but feel bad for him and his kids. They seem to have been through a lot. This is going to be a very tough case because of various issues with prior petitions and some other related issues. But, as Cindy said, might as well get the hard ones out of the way because after this case, I-130s should be a breeze. Great. Fortunately, everyone who works here is helpful, so I can ask all the questions I want. And, I do like tackling the hard stuff first. More to follow!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Pre-summer work

Hey all! This blog is to document the work I will be doing this summer at the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota in St. Paul, MN through the Upper Midwest Human Rights Fellowship. I am currently an intern at ILCM, which makes it convenient to start working. Even though it is finals period, I have a bit of a break so I went into work yesterday to finish up some stuff. I had two cases this semester that I filed with Immigration on behalf of clients. This semester my work was with victims of domestic violence, which I liked a lot. I found out that both of my clients have prima facie eligibility, which basically means that Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) took a quick look at the materials we sent and said that everything appeared to be in place. This was very exciting news for me, since this was the first time I have ever filed anything! I also sent out letters to people I will hopefully be working with this summer on their immigration issues. Hopefully, I will hear back from them once I start work for real on May 14.