American Gateways http://www.americangateways.org Mon, 16 Apr 2018 22:50:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.5 https://i0.wp.com/www.americangateways.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/cropped-american-gateways.png?fit=32%2C32 American Gateways http://www.americangateways.org 32 32 111284648 AMERICAN GATEWAYS RESPONDS TO DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ABRUPT ANNOUNCEMENT TO CANCEL PROGRAM PROVIDING BASIC LEGAL EDUCATION TO THOUSANDS OF IMMIGRANTS IN REMOVAL PROCEEDINGS http://www.americangateways.org/american-gateways-responds-to-department-of-justice-abrupt-announcement-to-cancel-program-providing-basic-legal-education-to-thousands-of-immigrants-in-removal-proceedings/ Mon, 16 Apr 2018 22:41:42 +0000 http://www.americangateways.org/?p=1009 Austin/San Antonio – American Gateways is deeply saddened and frustrated to learn that the Department of Justice has announced the discontinuation of all funding for the Legal Orientation Program (“LOP”) and Immigration Court Helpdesk (“ICH”) programs, effective at the end...

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Austin/San Antonio – American Gateways is deeply saddened and frustrated to learn that the Department of Justice has announced the discontinuation of all funding for the Legal Orientation Program (“LOP”) and Immigration Court Helpdesk (“ICH”) programs, effective at the end of April and July respectively. With sites across the country, these programs provide basic legal education to thousands of immigrants in removal proceedings who would not otherwise have access to legal counsel. The DOJ-funded programs were implemented by the Vera Institute for Justice, who in turn partnered with a national network of legal services providers. American Gateways serves as the LOP provider at three immigration detention centers in the region, including the South Texas Detention Complex, the Karnes County Residential Center, and the South Texas Residential Center. We are also the Helpdesk (ICH) provider at the San Antonio Immigration Court.

At an annual cost of just over $10 million, the LOP and ICH programs served more than 53,000 individuals and families facing deportation each year. Through presentations and workshops, LOP and ICH providers explained the immigration system and court processes, the legal rights of immigrants in deportation proceedings, and any potential legal pathways for those appearing before the courts to remain in the United States. It also created a mechanism for direct referrals to pro bono attorneys willing to provide representation.

The abrupt cancellation of the program marks the Trump Administration’s most recent assault on the immigrant community and their utter disdain for fundamental human rights. “These actions are an affront to basic principles of due process and equal access to justice,” said Rebecca Lightsey, Executive Director. “The LOP and ICH programs insured that our team of attorneys and legal professionals were on the ground, providing basic services for thousands of the most vulnerable in our community. Those affected include asylum seekers and survivors of violence and human trafficking as well as countless Central Texas families who have seen a loved one apprehended and carried away by ICE.”

“Although the Justice Department’s move represents a significant blow to our region, we will not be deterred. In the coming hours, days, and weeks we will be working to respond to this challenge and continue the fight for immigrant justice.”

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Tomorrow in Waco: Bienvenidos Bash! http://www.americangateways.org/tomorrow-in-waco-bienvenidos-bash/ Tue, 27 Mar 2018 01:14:48 +0000 http://www.americangateways.org/?p=1004 We invite you to celebrate the first anniversary of our Waco office and learn more about the important work we are doing in the community. Join us for eats provided by Milo Biscuit Company, live entertainment from JB Smith, and...

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We invite you to celebrate the first anniversary of our Waco office and learn more about the important work we are doing in the community. Join us for eats provided by Milo Biscuit Company, live entertainment from JB Smith, and a silent auction with proceeds benefiting our continued work in Waco. The event takes place at Balcones Distillery. Tickets are $35. This is 21+ event. Find more information here.

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Thanks To Amplify Austin Donors! http://www.americangateways.org/thanks-to-amplify-austin-donors/ Mon, 19 Mar 2018 16:25:29 +0000 http://www.americangateways.org/?p=995 We want to send a sincere thanks to the supporters who helped us raise over $10,000 during Amplify Austin’s recent 24-hour fundraising blitz. We will use your donations to continue the fight for immigrant justice. If you would like to...

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We want to send a sincere thanks to the supporters who helped us raise over $10,000 during Amplify Austin’s recent 24-hour fundraising blitz. We will use your donations to continue the fight for immigrant justice.

If you would like to learn more about Amplify Austin, which raises funds for 700 Central Texas nonprofits throughout the year, please visit their homepage.

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Immigration Court Helpdesk http://www.americangateways.org/immigration-court-helpdesk/ Sat, 27 Jan 2018 17:38:31 +0000 http://www.americangateways.org/?p=955 The Immigration Court Helpdesk (ICH) program is a court-based legal education program for non-detained noncitizens in immigration court proceedings. The goal of ICH is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of immigration court proceedings by informing non-detained respondents appearing before...

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The Immigration Court Helpdesk (ICH) program is a court-based legal education program for non-detained noncitizens in immigration court proceedings. The goal of ICH is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of immigration court proceedings by informing non-detained respondents appearing before the court about court practices and procedures, available legal options, and other relevant topics. Because immigrants in court proceedings are not entitled to legal representation at the government’s expense, ICH prepares unrepresented individuals to understand the immigration court process and navigate a complex legal system on their own. By providing respondents with the knowledge to make informed decisions, ICH helps make immigration proceedings more efficient in courts with significant backlogs around the country.

The Immigration Court Helpdesk is located in the Pro Bono room of the San Antonio Immigration Court Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm.

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The Whipsaw: Recent Changes To DACA And TPS http://www.americangateways.org/whipsaw-recent-changes-daca-tps/ Wed, 17 Jan 2018 22:33:40 +0000 http://www.americangateways.org/?p=930 Sawdust The whipsaw method of modifying federal immigration policy was established in early 2017 and continues apace in the new year. It goes something like this: the Trump administration takes a drastic (and perhaps legally insupportable) action with the evident...

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Sawdust

The whipsaw method of modifying federal immigration policy was established in early 2017 and continues apace in the new year. It goes something like this: the Trump administration takes a drastic (and perhaps legally insupportable) action with the evident goal of reducing the overall numbers of both legal and undocumented immigrants in the United States. Immigration advocates in local government and/or the nonprofit realm then challenge the changes in court, which not infrequently results in a federal court putting the brakes on all or part of those changes. It’s created a tough and uncertain situation for all stakeholders but especially for the immigrants whose futures are now obscured by the accumulating sawdust of aggressive, de facto immigration reform.

American Gateways clients are among the immigrants struggling through this period of heightened confusion and include beneficiaries of certain U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) programs. In particular, people eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) programs have seen important changes over the past few months.

DACA

The administration discontinued DACA in September and gave status-holders one month to apply for a final renewal, valid for two years. It was a demoralizing setback for the over 700,000 undocumented people known as Dreamers. At American Gateways, we’ve filed over 1,200 applications and renewals for DACA protection since the program’s inception. The cohort’s name comes from a law called the DREAM Act that knocked around Congress in the first decade of the aughts. It sought to legalize the presence of people brought to the country as children but was hampered by the stubborn toxicity among some hardliners of anything that could be considered an amnesty. The Obama administration responded with DACA in 2012 and set certain qualifications for applicants. They must have arrived before their sixteenth birthday. They must either attend school or possess a high school diploma or GED. They will “have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety,” in the words of USCIS.

Despite the erroneous claims of some pundits and politicians (including Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton), DACA did not provide a path to citizenship or even legal permanent residency. It simply guaranteed that Dreamers would not be targeted for deportation and, crucially, could legally seek work. Hopes have risen and fallen several times in the past year that a permanent legislative solution to the Dreamer’s situation would be found. In fact, they’ve risen and fallen several times in the past week. But a recent development at a San Francisco federal court resulted in a welcome, if still temporary, change in USCIS policy.

Judge William Alsup issued an injunction on January 9th against the repeal of DACA,  mandating that the program resume for those who had already been granted deferred action status at the time of the September repeal. People needing to renew can once again do so and those whose DACA status lapsed or was revoked before the discontinuation can reapply. However, people who were never granted DACA protection cannot seek it now. The Department of Justice appealed the injunction yesterday at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and also announced its intention to seek a Supreme Court review. The whipsaw can change direction at any time, but only a legislative fix will bring some measure of stability to the lives and future plans of the Dreamers. Those eligible to renew or reapply are encouraged to do as soon as possible. American Gateways is collaborating with other organizations to offer DACA clinics on January 19th and 21st. See the flyer here or find more information on our Events calendar.

TPS

Meanwhile, recipients of TPS from Nicaragua and El Salvador occupy a space below the dusty first downstroke of the whipsaw. The Department of Homeland Security declared the end of TPS designations for those countries in December and January, respectively, and provided dates for the final re-enrollment period for Nicaragua. They have not yet announced the final re-enrollment period for El Salvador. TPS recipients from Honduras are in a sort of purgatory since the deadline to announce a decision regarding designation renewal or cancellation was missed by the government, thus triggering a legally mandated six-month extension. It’s worth noting that Haitians (whose TPS designation was also cancelled but among whom American Gateways does not have any clients) received an extension in May of 2017 only to have, in November, their TPS designation scheduled for cancellation in 2019.

TPS is issued for different reasons and for different countries, with the common factor being sufficiently abundant danger at a certain time for citizens of those countries such that the U.S. extends a humanitarian invitation to temporarily reside and work here. The particular application requirements also vary by country but generally require applicants to be present in the U.S. since a certain date and to have attained a certain level of education. Each increment of TPS also varies but is usually given for 12- or 18-month periods. Much of the pushback to the recent revocations of TPS is focused on the at-best modest extents to which conditions in those countries have improved. El Salvador and Honduras, for example, continue to occupy some of the top slots in homicide rates by country.

Nicaraguans have until February 13th to apply for a TPS extension that will then expire on January 5th, 2019. We know that the final TPS extension for Salvadorans will expire on September 9th, 2019 and await a USCIS announcement about re-enrollment. Hondurans also have until February 13th to re-register for the automatic six-month extension. The longer term future of Honduran TPS remains unknown.

Ping Pong and Public Opinion

The chaotic and piecemeal approach to immigration reform now underway is symptomatic of several underlying conditions but also reflects a broader ambiguity in matters of federal policy. While immigration reform has often fallen within the purview of the legislative branch, the lack of recent action on Capitol Hill has forced it into the turbulent confluence of executive branch action, citizen advocacy and judicial branch power balancing. It’s unclear to what extent hardliners – including Jeff Sessions and Stephen Miller – in the Trump administration overshoot their goals in anticipation of the whipsaw effect. Regardless, their presence at the forefront of policymaking is a lamentable renaissance of a type of nationalism we had hoped was on the wan. Additionally, the president’s ping ponging rhetoric obscures the intent behind, and prospect for the success of, a White House-brokered legislative compromise.

On the ground, answers to riddles like these hardly matter. The past year has been difficult enough for many immigrants as families are disassembled and once-bright futures are thrown into sudden uncertainty. Our approach at American Gateways has always prioritized respect for each individual immigrant and a dedicated, sustained effort as our clients navigate a daunting system. In our daily work we try to mitigate the difficulties most immigrants must face while also advocating more generally for the idea that immigration enriches the entire nation. In at least one area, it seems most Americans agree. According to a recent CBS News poll, 70 percent support allowing Dreamers to stay in the country.

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Upcoming DACA Clinics http://www.americangateways.org/upcoming-daca-clinics/ Wed, 17 Jan 2018 21:27:08 +0000 http://www.americangateways.org/?p=920 The immigration services community in Austin will be holding two clinics to help Dreamers renew their DACA status in the brief window now open for renewal. See flyer below.  

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The immigration services community in Austin will be holding two clinics to help Dreamers renew their DACA status in the brief window now open for renewal. See flyer below.

 

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AMERICAN GATEWAYS RESPONDS TO CANCELLATION OF TPS FOR EL SALVADOR http://www.americangateways.org/american-gateways-responds-cancellation-tps-el-salvador/ Tue, 09 Jan 2018 02:48:08 +0000 http://www.americangateways.org/?p=912 January 8th, 2018 AUSTIN, TX – American Gateways is saddened to learn of the Trump Administration’s announcement this morning that they will end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Salvadorans. Since 2001, American Gateways has routinely served more than one hundred Salvadorans...

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January 8th, 2018

AUSTIN, TX – American Gateways is saddened to learn of the Trump Administration’s announcement this morning that they will end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Salvadorans. Since 2001, American Gateways has routinely served more than one hundred Salvadorans who rely on this protection to live and work legally in the United States. For many, the United States has been home for most of their adult lives. They have raised families here, started businesses, paid taxes, and become integral members of our community.

Over almost two decades, our clients have diligently re-registered for this status: paying fees, submitting to background checks, and enduring the persistent ambiguity surrounding the future of the lives they have built in this community. To terminate the TPS program now, without any pathway to remain in the United States, is a betrayal of American values.

Absent any assurance of a quick legislative fix, we call on the Trump Administration to rescind this order and reinstate TPS for Salvadorans until Congress passes a permanent solution for this community in limbo.

In the meantime, there is no need for panic as the cancellation will not go into effect until September 9, 2019. Members of the Salvadoran community should look out for announcements about re-registration in the coming days and weeks and should consult with a trustworthy immigration attorney to fully understand their rights and options.

Those interested in learning more about their current rights and status are welcome to visit our Austin office between 9:00AM and 12:00PM and 1:30PM and 5:00PM, Monday through Thursday. Our San Antonio office is open to walk-ins between 9:00AM and 2:00PM, Monday through Thursday. Our Waco office is by appointment only.

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Job Opening – San Antonio Staff Attorney http://www.americangateways.org/job-opening-san-antonio-staff-attorney/ Wed, 20 Dec 2017 02:35:40 +0000 http://www.americangateways.org/?p=901 American Gateways is hiring a staff attorney for our San Antonio office. A detailed job description is available here. Salary is commensurate with experience. Benefits include health, dental, vision, and life insurance, and generous leave benefits. American Gateways is an...

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American Gateways is hiring a staff attorney for our San Antonio office. A detailed job description is available here.

Salary is commensurate with experience. Benefits include health, dental, vision, and life insurance, and generous leave benefits. American Gateways is an Equal Opportunity Employer; women, minorities, and immigrants are encouraged to apply.

Please send a cover letter, resume, writing sample (no more than 5 pages) and 3 professional references to americangateways@gmail.com.

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AMERICAN GATEWAYS AND TEXAS BAR FOUNDATION ANNOUNCE NEW COLLABORATION TO SERVE IMMIGRANT YOUTH IN WACO AND MCLENNAN COUNTY http://www.americangateways.org/american-gateways-texas-bar-foundation-announce-new-collaboration-serve-immigrant-youth-waco-mclennan-county/ Fri, 15 Dec 2017 14:52:38 +0000 http://www.americangateways.org/?p=881 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...

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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.

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Job Opening – Austin Staff Attorney http://www.americangateways.org/job-opening-austin-staff-attorney/ Fri, 17 Nov 2017 00:03:43 +0000 http://www.americangateways.org/?p=867 American Gateways is hiring a staff attorney for our Austin office. A detailed job description is available here. Please note that this position is funded under the Vera Safe Cities grant and will focus primarily on detained removal cases out of...

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American Gateways is hiring a staff attorney for our Austin office. A detailed job description is available here. Please note that this position is funded under the Vera Safe Cities grant and will focus primarily on detained removal cases out of the South Texas Detention Complex in Pearsall, TX.

Salary is commensurate with experience.  Benefits include health, dental, vision, and life insurance, and generous leave benefits.  American Gateways is an Equal Opportunity Employer; women, minorities, and immigrants are encouraged to apply.

Please send cover letter, resume, writing sample (no more than 5 pages), and 3 professional references to americangateways@gmail.com.

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