Wednesday, March 10, 2010

In the Heart of Little Haiti - Take 3...

Today was a very, very, long day. We met at the school to debrief and go over our cases from the day before, started filling out the paperwork to file with USCIS and then went back to Little Haiti for the night clinic. While it feels like we have spent all of our time in Little Haiti the past three days, the night clinic was a good reminder of how important outreach is: it really paid off and at the end of the night we had 11 new TPS clients.

What was just as exciting was that clients from the day before returned with the paperwork we needed them to bring, recognized our faces, and even brought new friends and relatives to the clinic. At the end of the day we keep coming back to the importance of making those connections in the community and putting yourself out there to establish credibility. Zahra's client from the day before returned with a relative, and Aman's client went to get more of his family members to get more info.

We have also seen a lot of parents coming in to file applications for their kids, something that Melissa and JoNel had said that they were trying to get more of. Overall, tonight's clinic felt like the result of lots and lots of outreach. Those connections really matter!

As we are getting more and more familiar with the TPS application and during our time researching today, we have all been struck by the fundamental unfairness of the intersection between criminal law and immigration law. Christine got on the phone and started doing massive amounts of research to determine what exactly counted as a misdemeanor, and was shocked to see that driving without a licence could be a misdemeanor. It seems unbelievable to not allow someone to work legally in the United States because they drove a car without a license.

Some of the clients that we had today also had a criminal past. It seems ridiculous for crimes such as theft to disqualify someone from TPS; if you are unable to work, how are you going to support yourself? Even though that seems to be a threshold matter for TPS eligibility, we are hopefully gonna do some research tomorrow to see if there is ANY way around it.

All in all a very long but fulfilling day!

Ed. note: Dana Isaac is a second-year law student at the University of San Francisco.

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