Wednesday, July 25, 2007

End of July

I was just noticing that it has been over a month since my last post. The Internet explorer in the office doesn't like the blog website, so it has been easy to forget to update it.

This month has been extremely busy. The Citizenship and Immigration Service is increasing fees for all immigration applications at the end of the month. As of July 30, many of the fees for applications will double. Naturally, this causes a bit of a problem for our clients, many of whom are considerably below the federal poverty levels. So, we have been trying to file a number of applications by the end of the month so our clients won't have to pay more. I have been busy trying to get naturalization applications together for clients who would not qualify for a fee waiver. (Fee waivers are avialable for a number of petitions, the requirements are different for a naturalization application than for other applications).

A lot of the cases that I started the summer with have been filed and I have taken on new cases. I am learning that so much of immigration work is a waiting game. We have cases that have been open for a year or two that are waiting for responses from CIS. By the end of this week, I should be able to file one of my oldest client's petitions. He came to me at the beginning of the summer with quite a sad story. He wants to bring his children over, and helping him file the petitions has been a slow process due to a rather significant language barrier, and trying to find someone to translate documents for us. But, the final piece will be ready at the end of this week, and I will be very glad to file the petitions with immigration. Unfortunately, his children will not be able to come to the US right away, and in fact it could be a four or five year wait (if not more) before they will be able to come. The look on my client's face when I first told him how long it would be before his kids came was heartbreaking.

I have another client who is breaking my heart too. She was married to an abusive man who keeps harassing her constantly. The man is horrible and has found ways to get information about my client, and has enlisted the help of others to continue to harrass her. He has attempted to destroy my client's business, and accuses her of marrying him for papers (which is untrue). The worst part is that they have a child in common, which means that they will probably be dealing with each other for the rest of their lives! Thankfully she is strong, smart, and very independent. But to hear what he does to make her life miserable makes me lose faith in the general goodness of other human beings.

But, there is nothing more fulfilling than a client thanking you for the work you have done. They are just so happy to be working with you to help solve their problems. It makes the heartache worth it.

One more month of my fellowship, then school starts. I plan on staying at ILCM as a work-study law clerk, so I can finish my cases. I admit that I have grown attached to my clients over the summer and want to see what happens. I am also going to try to apply for fellowships so that I can work at ILCM after I graduate without having to rely on funding here. So, even after the fellowship is over I might not be completely done with ILCM. At least, I hope I won't be. :)