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Winter 2018 Newsletter

Amy Lee

Dear Friends,

Stillness. I recently participated in a silent retreat at a Jesuit retreat center where I discovered the gift of stillness and quiet. As I sat in the chapel complete with beautiful stained glass windows and high ceiling beams, I thought of Oscar Romero and Álvaro Conrado. Although decades apart, both died near another church sanctuary because they chose to align themselves with the oppressed and marginalized. Almost four decades ago, Father Romero boldly stood alongside poor Salvadoran peasants as they faced death squads from their own government. He prayed for his enemies and was shot while celebrating mass. On April 20, 2018, 15-year old Álvaro was shot in the neck by a Nicaraguan government sniper. He was on his way to bring water to student protestors who had taken refuge in the city’s cathedral. In the quiet of the sanctuary, I found hope in their stories. 

I am a doer. Being still is not my natural inclination. In a year of incessant noise — the Supreme Court’s affirmation of the Muslim Ban, restrictions on asylum protection for domestic violence survivors, proposal to punish immigrants for using food stamps and accessing health care, separation of families at the border — being still may seem nonsensical. It is. Yet stillness and quiet can also restore and nourish our aching souls. So we can keep moving forward. Keep advocating. Keep praying. Keep hoping. Death, suffering and injustice do not have the last word. God does.

Warmly,
Amy P. Lee
Executive Director & Managing Attorney

Join us in proclaiming Jubilee.

Amy Lee (third from right) at press conference on September 26, 2018 with representatives from the San Francisco Human Services Agency and community organizations to discuss the impact of the Department of Homeland Security’s public charge proposal on immigrants in our community.

Amy Lee (third from right) at press conference on September 26, 2018 with representatives from the San Francisco Human Services Agency and community organizations to discuss the impact of the Department of Homeland Security’s public charge proposal on immigrants in our community.

Direct Legal Services

This year, our small staff of three, with the help of our amazing volunteers, provided direct immigration legal services to over 500 individuals. About 80% of these individuals had incomes at or below 250% of the federal poverty level ($62,750 for a family of 4). One-third of our clients are Asian or Pacific Islanders and over half are Latino. The majority of our clients are served in their native language: Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin or Tagalog. Our docket includes family-based immigration (40%), relief for victims of violence and abuse (25%) and deportation defense (22%). This year we received our first government grant from San Francisco’s Office of Civic Engagement & Immigrant Affairs!

Amy Lee (middle) in Washington D.C. with fellow immigration lawyers after meeting with Jared Huffman’s office (CA 2nd District).

Amy Lee (middle) in Washington D.C. with fellow immigration lawyers after meeting with Jared Huffman’s office (CA 2nd District).

Community education and policy advocacy

In April, Amy Lee joined over 500 lawyers from the American Immigration Lawyers Association to meet with lawmakers in Washington D.C. to advocate for just and humane immigration policies. In partnership with community partners like Chinese for Affirmative Action, Wu Yee Children’s Services, San Francisco-Marin Food Bank and Mission Economic Development Agency, we conducted community trainings in Cantonese, Spanish and English on topics such as public charge and immigrant rights. This fall, we mobilized congregations to submit public comments opposing the federal government’s public charge proposal to punish low-income immigrants for accessing nutrition, health care and housing programs. Lastly, we made several appearances on the KTSF Channel 26 Evening News and Sing Tao Radio to discuss immigration topics in Cantonese and Mandarin. 

Below is one of our clients’ stories (with the names and details changed to protect our client’s identity).

Clare Crawford (left) and Debbie Gish (middle), Spanish interpreter, meet with a client.

Clare Crawford (left) and Debbie Gish (middle), Spanish interpreter, meet with a client.

Kira is a middle schooler from Guatemala. An older boy, a known gang member, had professed that he was in love with her and started stalking and harassing her. Fearing for Kira’s safety, her mother reluctantly agreed to have Kira’s father, who worked as a “coyote” (smuggler), bring her to the U.S.  Kira barely knew her father. During their journey to the U.S., he attempted to sexually assault her. Fortunately, a stranger intervened. When Kira arrived at U.S. border, government officials separated her from her father because his name was not on her birth certificate. Kira was detained in a youth facility for several months before being released to the care of Maria, her mother’s cousin. Kira lived with Maria’s family and started attending a local middle school. Because Kira has been abused, neglected and abandoned by her father, she is eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), a pathway to citizenship for vulnerable young immigrants under age 21. If she is granted SIJS, she will be eligible to apply for a green card and U.S. citizenship. 

In the past year, USCIS has been systematically denying SIJS to youth between the ages of 18-20. In August, a group of pro bono lawyers sued the government to stop these illegal denials. The judge has ordered the government to temporarily stop the denials. The underlying legal issues in the case will continue to be litigated. For now, the future of these immigrant youth remains uncertain. 

By Clare K. Crawford, Staff Attorney

Justin Talbott speaking at Grace Fellowship Community Church about global migration patterns.

Justin Talbott speaking at Grace Fellowship Community Church about global migration patterns.

Reflection

Each week (sometimes daily!), this Administration weakens, threatens or obliterates some pathway to citizenship that our clients rely on. Unfortunately, after working at Jubilee for more than a year, this is what I have come to expect. I have been told that things were worse back in the eighties during the Central American wars. But as a 22 year old, this current fear mongering climate against immigrants is the only historical context that I know. It makes sense that “sad,” “frustrated,” and “exhausted” are often my honest answers to “how are you?” Our client victories at Jubilee can feel small when I consider the many people we are unable to help because of our limited resources and who must navigate the immigration maze on their own. Yet, I find deep and lasting joy in serving our clients because I see how crucial our work is in their lives.

At Jubilee, we fight for our clients’ legal status here in the U.S., but their journey often began with the trauma that forced them to flee their home countries. Many are refugees fleeing life-threatening violence in Central America due to gangs, drugs, corruption and poverty. They have made the incredibly difficult decision to leave everything and everyone behind just for the hope of escaping that violence. Their journey will not end in a courtroom or at an immigration interview, where our work ends. Legal status — and the physical and mental peace that comes with it — is just one critical step on their lifelong journey of healing.

“How can I help those on this journey?” you may be wondering. Here are some of my suggestions:

  1. Get to know the immigrants in your community. They’re your neighbors, the parents of your child’s friend or the people who work at your favorite lunch spot.

  2. Get involved with local advocacy groups. Support vulnerable immigrants in the form of a public comment to a government proposal. Speak out on their behalf at a community event or vote in an election.

  3. Use your resources to invest in immigrant communities. Invest in the lives of immigrants and refugees as a tangible expression of our care and welcome. Give to Jubilee or other advocacy groups. Volunteer at your local school’s newcomer program.

However we choose to show solidarity with vulnerable immigrants, may we offer a glimmer of hope in the midst of their long, courageous journey to wholeness and healing.

By Justin Talbott, Legal Advocate

Thank you so much for your support. As we enter into our fourth year and continue to grow, please consider giving an ongoing or end-of-the-year gift to Jubilee. Your gift would make high-quality, affordable legal representation accessible to more marginalized immigrants. Please tell your friends and family about Jubilee!

Support Us

Copyright © 2018 Jubilee Immigration Advocates, All rights reserved.

Winter 2017 Newsletter

Amy Lee

Dear Friends,


Joy. With a name like Jubilee, you would think we’re good at being joyful. We’re not. Often we’re immersed in listening to our clients’ desperate stories. Or we’re trying to leverage our legal training to find a pathway for our clients to remain in this country. Yet, we want to practice joyfulness and gratitude and live up to the name we’ve been given -- to celebrate and remember that all things belong to God and He provides for all that we need.
 
We are grateful for each client we served. For their resilience and courage. For grants and generous donations. For a bigger office space in downtown San Francisco that we share with our nonprofit friends at KIND. For our family at Grace Fellowship Community Church who nurtured and incubated us for the last two years in their building. For our community partners who work alongside us. For our amazing volunteers. For our first summer intern, Anne Yamamoto. For Justin Talbott, our new Spanish-speaking Legal Advocate. For the privilege of standing with marginalized immigrants in today’s volatile political climate. And for your prayers and partnership.

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This year, we have provided direct immigration legal services to over 450 individuals, more than twice as many people as in 2016. Over 80% of these individuals had incomes at or below 250% of the federal poverty level ($61,500 for a family of 4). About 38% of our clients are Asian Pacific Islander and 59% are Latino. Nearly two-thirds of our clients are served in their native language: Spanish, Cantonese or Mandarin. Our docket includes family-based immigration (36%), relief for victims of violence and abuse (25%) and deportation defense (22%). In partnership with congregations like New Hope Covenant Church in Oakland and Reality SF, Jubilee hosted legal clinics where we provided free legal consultations to over 75 individuals with the help of our amazing volunteers. We conducted community trainings and know-your-rights presentations in English, Spanish and Cantonese to over 300 individuals in the community.  

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Volunteers Karen Parnell and Jody Talkington conduct a know-your-rights presentation at New Hope Covenant Church in Oakland


Below are a couple of our clients’ stories (with their names and identifying details changed for confidentiality purposes).

Diego often traveled from Colombia to the U.S. to visit his parents. During his last visit, his father was diagnosed with lung cancer. Diego decided to remain in the U.S. to care for his parents. He eventually took over his father’s business. After his father passed away, his mother became depressed and isolated. She refused to leave home unless Diego accompanied her. When his mom became a U.S. citizen, she petitioned for Diego to obtain his green card. However, because he had overstayed his tourist visa many years ago to care for his parents, he faced additional barriers in obtaining a green card. Jubilee assisted him in applying for a complex waiver, which the immigration service granted. Diego returned to Colombia and was admitted into the U.S. as a legal permanent resident. He now has his green card. 

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Mei met James, an American, through an online dating website. After a series of bad relationships, she desperately hoped that James was the one with whom she could spend the rest of her life. They talked on the phone and communicated via social media. He even travelled to China a few times to meet her and her family. They eventually married. He petitioned for her to join him in the U.S. Soon after arriving in the U.S., Mei started noticing James’ controlling behavior. He confiscated all her important documents. He forbade her from cooking Chinese food. He refused to take her to the doctor when she became ill. During an argument, James called the police and falsely claimed that she had hit him. Because Mei spoke very little English, she was unable to communicate with the officers. The police arrested her and put her in jail. No charges were filed. Upon her release, she discovered that James had emptied her bank account and lied to obtain a restraining order against her. She was left homeless and without any means to support herself. She eventually found refuge at a domestic violence shelter. Jubilee advocated on her behalf and helped her to obtain her green card based on the domestic abuse that she had suffered. 

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Justin Talbott joined Jubilee in October as our Spanish-speaking Legal Advocate. Justin was born and raised in San Francisco’s Mission District. He learned early on that his family had luxuries (like visiting relatives overseas) that his undocumented friends did not have, simply because his friends did not have the “right” papers. While at U.C. Santa Cruz, he mentored and coached immigrant youth in baseball and soccer and volunteered at East Bay Sanctuary Covenant. He studied in Guatemala and graduated from U.C. Santa Cruz with a bachelor's degree in Linguistics.  


Thank you so much for your support. As we enter into our third year and continue to grow, please consider giving an ongoing or end-of-the-year gift to Jubilee. Your gift would make high-quality, affordable legal representation accessible to more marginalized immigrants.

We would love to hear from you! Come visit us at our new office at 200 Pine Street, 3rd Floor in downtown San Francisco. Please tell your friends and family about Jubilee!

Winter 2016 Newsletter

Amy Lee

Dear Friends & Family,

Shalom -- the Hebrew word for peace and wholeness. As we enter into the season of Advent, a season of waiting and hope in the four weeks preceding Christmas, shalom is what we long for. Shalom for our nation. Our immigrant communities. Our cities. Our churches. We choose mercy over hate. Love over fear. We join and stand in solidarity with our immigrant clients, families, friends, and neighbors. We will continue to advocate for immigrants in our communities. Together, we press forward. 

Join us in proclaiming Jubilee -- for justice and shalom.

Jubilee staff, volunteer Spanish interpreters and Mallie, our adopted office dog

Jubilee staff, volunteer Spanish interpreters and Mallie, our adopted office dog

After launching Jubilee nearly a year ago, we have had the privilege of providing direct immigration legal services to over 165 individuals. We provided full-scope legal representation in about 45% of the cases we opened this year. Full-scope legal representation is when a lawyer represents a client in his/her entire legal case rather than only part of it. The remaining 55% received 1-2 hour individual consultations or brief legal services. We have also partnered with over 30 community organizations and churches. 

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We have had the privilege of listening to and learning from our clients’ stories of struggle and resilience. Below are a couple of their stories (with the names and details changed to protect their identity).

Rosa is a single mom from rural El Salvador. Her job didn’t pay enough to cover her son’s medical bills after he broke his arm. She fell into debt. Then she met Juan, a rich man who promised her financial security. He offered to have her come live with him. Although she barely knew him, she finally gave in, relying on his promise that her children would be provided for and able to join her soon. Upon arriving at Juan’s big house, she became his prisoner. He took away her cell phone and locked her inside his house. He demanded that she cook all his meals. She found weapons under the bed. He threatened to kill her if she left him. One time he stuck his gun in her mouth. He repeatedly beat her and sexually assaulted her during her 3-month imprisonment. When she finally escaped, she and her youngest son fled El Salvador, leaving behind her other two children in her mother’s care. She knew that if Juan found her, he would kill her. Rosa is now in deportation proceedings. Jubilee is representing Rosa in her asylum case, which will be heard by an immigration judge in 2017.


Altan came to the United States from Mongolia to attend college. One night, while he was working as a cashier at a gas station convenience store, he was held up at gunpoint. Altan thought he would be killed if he didn’t hand over all the money in the cash register. After the perpetrator fled with the money, Altan immediately called 911. Altan was very shaken up by the robbery. He started having nightmares and couldn’t sleep. Little sounds would frighten him. He quit his job because he was scared of being held up again. He dropped out of school because he couldn’t concentrate and fell into depression. Most days, he would rather stay home and be alone than be around other people. Jubilee is representing Altan in his U visa case. Congress created the U visa to encourage immigrants to cooperate with the police by reporting violent crimes in their communities. With a U visa, Altan would obtain a work permit and be eligible to apply for a green card in the future. 
 


Jubilee serves clients with diverse needs, backgrounds and languages.

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Thank you so much for your support and prayers. The work we do at Jubilee is an absolute privilege. As we enter into our second year, we will continue to use our legal training and resources to advocate for marginalized and vulnerable immigrants. Please consider giving an ongoing or end-of-year gift to Jubilee. Your gift would allow immigrants in underserved communities to access excellent, affordable and compassionate legal representation.

Please tell your friends and family about Jubilee! We would love to hear from you.


In November, Jubilee gathered a group of advisors with diverse experience to plan and dream about Jubilee’s future. This group included a small business owner, technology executive, bilingual public school teacher, and government attorney, as well as members of Jubilee’s Board of Directors.