December 11, 2017
WACO, TX – American Gateways is excited to announce its new partnership with the Texas Bar Foundation to expand its services to low-income survivors of crime in Waco and McLennan County, Texas. Thanks to the support of a $15,000 grant from the Texas Bar Foundation, American Gateways’ Waco Office will take the lead on a new initiative aimed at Waco-area students.
The Project to Support Immigrant Youth is to provide direct immigration legal services and age appropriate Know Your Rights Presentations to immigrant high school students and their parents in the McLennan County area. The Project’s goal is to use outreach events to educate immigrant high school students on the complexities of the U.S. immigration system and their rights under the law. Where appropriate, the Project will also support American Gateways in providing direct legal services to these students and their parents who qualify for immigration benefits, but who cannot afford a private attorney. Finally, the Project aims to draw attention to the severe impact that deportations have on local families while capitalizing on existing community resources to develop a multi-disciplinary response and supportive systems to increased immigration enforcement.
According to the Pew Hispanic Research Center, nearly 40% of McLennan County’s immigrant population has children enrolled in local schools and more than 3,000 local students are undocumented. Because of the historically small presence of low-cost immigration attorneys in the region, this may be many families’ first opportunity to speak with a lawyer about their immigration status and/or their legal and constitutional rights. “Initiatives like this one are more important now than ever before,” explains Ms. Looper. “With the ongoing legal uncertainty surrounding SB4 and the end of the DACA program, immigrant youth are in an extremely vulnerable position. This program lets these kids and their families know that this community has their back.” Ms. Looper predicts that the Project will ultimately benefit all McLennan County residents by boosting the local economy and promoting social cohesion.
Headquartered in Austin with offices in Waco and San Antonio, American Gateways is a 501(c)(3) that has provided immigration legal services to low-income immigrants in Central Texas for 30 years. Our mission is to champion the rights of immigrant survivors through exceptional pro bono and low-cost legal services, education and advocacy.
Since its inception in 1965, the Texas Bar Foundation has awarded more than $18 million in grants to law-related programs. Supported by members of the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Bar Foundation is the nation’s largest charitably-funded bar foundation.