Maria and Simón

In January, KIAC received an urgent call from a woman whose husband was detained in the Northwest ICE Processing Center in Tacoma. Maria and her husband Simón, (names changed for confidentiality) fled their native country after receiving harassment and threats from elements of their government — a government Simón and his family had been in opposition to for years. After a hard and dangerous trip, this young couple crossed the US-Mexico border and turned themselves into immigration agents — seeking asylum.

Both were detained, but for medical reasons, Maria was released. After visiting Simón, we filed a motion for a bond hearing with the immigration court. We presented our case in detail at the bond hearing and the judge granted a bond the family could afford. 

We met Simón at the detention center gate upon his release and arranged a place for him to stay and a ride to the airport. Simón was reunited with Maria the next day.

We couldn’t do this work without the support of our community. Kitsap Great Give early giving is OPEN and all gifts are boosted! Schedule your gift today at https://kitsapgreatgive.org/profile/s/kitsap-immigrant-assistance-center

FROM THE DESK OF KIAC’S EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Dear Friends,

February may have been a shorter month, but it was certainly filled with more than its share of heartbreaking news. Between the wars unfolding in Ukraine and continuing in Yemen, and the release of the Sixth Assessment Report by the IPCC regarding the climate crisis, we at KIAC have grappled with finding our place in it all.

One of our staff members came upon our quote of the month by Ursula Wolfe-Rocca, a writer for the Zinn Education Project.

It can be overwhelming to witness/experience/take in all the injustices of the moment; the good news is that “they’re all connected.” So if your little corner of work involves pulling at one of the threads, you’re helping to unravel the whole cloth.

It seems particularly fitting, as we steadfastly continue KIAC’s work for our immigrant neighbors. 

Throughout the month of February, KIACcontinued to “pull at our thread” through our work.

  • KIAC assisted our partner Peninsula Community Health Services in a second Covid-19 vaccine event in late February.  Between the two vaccine events in January and February, 191 community members were vaccinated — 135 adults and 56 children.
  • Our Immigration Legal Services team successfully negotiated a bond hearing for a client held at the Northwest ICE Processing Center. This client and their spouse fled their native country after receiving threats and harassment from the government. After turning themselves into immigration agents on arrival in the United States, one spouse was sent to Tacoma and the other was released to family in another state. Thanks to the work of our Legal team, our client was released from the Northwest ICE Processing Center on a bond the family could afford, and was reunited with their spouse the next day!
  • KIAC was one of the 100+ organizations to sign a letter pushing for a $30 million state fund for refugee resettlement in Washington State.

March is underway, and with it comes new opportunities.

  • KIAC needs tax preparation volunteers! Interested in getting involved or know someone who is? Email Graciela to find out more.
  • We are getting back into the community and look forward to sharing information about KIAC and what we do in an informational session at Kol Shalom Jewish Congregation on March 22.
  • Mark your calendars! Kitsap’s biggest day of giving — Kitsap Great Give — is Tuesday, April 19. We will be in touch in the coming weeks with information about how to get involved. 

When reflecting upon the past month, I continue to feel gratitude for the partnerships that make our work at KIAC possible. Thank you for your support.

In gratitude,

Thangam Chandrasekaran, Executive Director

KIAC WELCOMES A NEW ACCREDITED REPRESENTATIVE

KIAC’s volunteer Accredited Representatives are with our immigration legal clients every step of the process. And earlier this month, we welcomed Doug H to the Accredited Representative (AR) team! Becoming a DOJ Accredited Representative is not an easy task and requires a lengthy process of both study and shadowing. We could not be more proud to have Doug join our team of ARs.

We asked Doug to share a bit about his process of becoming an AR, and he had this to say:

In 2019, I became concerned with news of Trumps separation of immigrant families at the US-Mexican border.  Meanwhile, a friend of mine (Libby Palmer, former KIAC Board Member) was active with the Jefferson County Immigrant Rights Activists (JCIRA). We discussed ways to help, and I decided the Accredited Representative (AR) Program sounded like the best way for me to get involved.  After a trip to the KIAC office to meet (Board members & volunteers) Ray and Althea, I signed up for the first of many trainings in immigration law, and began observing and assisting some of our ARs.  After a little over a year of training (averaging about 10 hrs/wk), I decided in January 2021 to start assembling my AR application, and a year later it was approved! I hope to focus on clients who want to became citizens.  My hope is that the more immigrant-citizens we have in the U.S. — bringing new energy, diverse talents and perspectives — the better chance we have of solving our national problems. Immigration law is very complicated, and the application process for immigrants seeking visas, green cards, or citizenship is arduous, but there is a nationwide support-system of immigrant-advocates who can help ARs with legal questions. Best of all, it is a pleasure to work with the dedicated KIAC legal team.

-Doug H

We are so excited to welcome Doug to our team of ARs! Thank you for your dedication to our mission, and we look forward to working with you, too!

Feeling inspired and want to become an AR yourself? Check out: https://kitsapiac.org/volunteer/

Sheila K and Doug H working out of the Port Townsend office

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