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GiVE Back: V&E Pro Bono Blog

  • 25
  • October
  • 2017

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“DREAM”ing of Pro Bono Work

Who are the DREAMers? Individuals who enjoyed protection under DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), a program enacted in 2012. This program allowed people who were younger than 31 when the program began, and who came to the United States before turning 16, and were still undocumented, to apply to temporarily live, work and study in the United States. 

Representing immigrants has long been a staple of many law firm pro bono programs, including V&E’s. For many years, V&E lawyers represented asylum seekers, those seeking U and T Visas as victims of crime or trafficking, and VAWA applicants as victims of domestic violence. When DACA was established, V&E, like most other firms, began to include DACA applications as part of the regular representation of pro bono immigration clients. 

As part of our commitment to representing DREAMers, V&E recently hosted a DACA Workshop at our Houston office in the summer of 2017, in partnership with Catholic Charities. The workshop immediately followed the June 16th announcement from the government that DACA was to be kept in place. The V&E workshop was one of two firm-sponsored summer workshops that enabled Catholic Charities to place thirty DACA cases, during a time when the clients were off from school for the summer. A total of 13 clients were assisted at the V&E workshop, with V&E lawyers and summer associates handling 8 of the matters, and other law firms who attended handled the remaining cases. 

Shortly after the DACA Workshop, in early September, it was announced that the government would be “winding down” the DACA program – no new applications for DACA, and anyone who needed renewals, would have to file for renewal before October 5.  Things change frequently these days.  In response to the urgent rush to be sure any DREAMer who needed to, filed for their renewal by October 5, V&E lawyers stepped up and attended Catholic Charities emergency DACA Renewal Workshops. At those workshops, V&E lawyers handled renewals for several additional DREAMers. 

V&E lawyers are honored to have had the opportunity to represent immigrants, including DREAMers for many years, and we hope, one day, that we will be able to represent these DREAMers once again for this same type of relief.  In the meantime, we will be continuing to work with organizations like Catholic Charities, hoping that we can direct DREAMers to another form of immigration relief, that will allow them to fulfill their dream to live, work and study in the United States.

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Author

Ellyn Haikin Josef Pro Bono Counsel