Hey everyone! On March 17th I’m running the NYC Half Marathon on behalf of Immigrant Justice Corps (IJC), a non-profit that aims to increase immigrants’ access to free legal services across the nation. Access to counsel is often the deciding factor in whether a family is torn apart or a child is forced to face immigration court alone. It’s time to turn our attention away from Trump’s fabricated border emergency and focus on the very real and widespread crisis of representation.
During my time living and working at an immigrant shelter in Guadalajara, Mexico last year, I crossed paths with many of the strongest and most resilient people I’ve ever met. Most were traveling by train and foot to escape gang violence and direct persecution in their home countries. The obstacles they face along the way are immense and impossible to fully understand -- organized crime, police extortion and sexual violence. Still, given the intentionally complex and exclusive nature of our immigration system, even those who cross the border will likely remain undocumented and continue to live in fear of deportation.
Working with clients at IJC to evaluate their immigration options and apply for legal relief, I am inspired to see how many have managed to overcome extreme hardship and establish meaningful lives here in the States. At the same time, I remember all the asylum seekers enduring unlivable conditions at the border, those that have been taken advantage of by fraudulent lawyers, and those that stand unrepresented before an immigration judge with no hope of avoiding deportation. Too many people have been denied the chance to remain in this country simply because they could not access the necessary legal resources. No one should have to navigate our daunting immigration system on their own. IJC is doing all it can to fill this gap, but we can only continue to provide cost-free services to low-income communities as long as we have funding! In this climate of antagonism and xenophobia, please show some love and donate what you can!