May 21, 2017
Heather Axford wrote -
Central American Legal Assistance (CALA), a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in Brooklyn, NY, has been representing Central Americans facing deportation since 1986. We opened when civil wars in El Salvador and Guatemala forced thousands of war refugees to flee the region. Since then, pervasive violence has continued to plague Central America, as transnational criminal organizations consolidate power and influence within weak governments. Our clients are under attack on all sides these days; in their home countries, by unfair immigration laws, and a current political environment that demonizes the many Central Americans (mostly women and children) fleeing home to seek refuge at our southern border.
We're small. We work out of the basement of a church on the Southside of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. We don't have professional development staff and don't do fancy fundraisers. But we do represent thousands of Central American immigrants at risk of deportation to apply for Asylum, Temporary Protected Status, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and other humanitarian relief. Last year alone, we appeared in court on behalf of immigrants facing removal over 700 times, and won relief from removal for over 200 people. We anticipate this year being more of a fight than ever.
And every year, we somehow manage to convince a group of brave individuals to pound the pavement throughout the spring, training for the Brooklyn Half Marathon, to raise much needed financial support for our work. Some of them are seasoned runners, for others this is their first race. All of them are running for CALA, for refugees, for a country where children and families are not demonized for their audacity to see the U.S. as a safe haven. Support them, support us, go TEAM CALA!