2022 Mid-Year Summary
In 1996, Americans for Immigrant Justice (AI Justice) took a stand to fight for immigrant rights, and we continue defending justice each day. With the support of our donors and inspired by the resilience of our clients, we advocate for an American society where immigrants are not subjected to abuse or injustice, are not afraid to seek help, have a fair path to citizenship, and see their contributions valued.
Our goal with this summary is to keep our supporters updated on our work, outcomes, and triumphs. Here is a look at our January-June 2022 in review.
Championing Immigrants’ Rights
Our clients are the immigrants in our community who are made most vulnerable by a broken immigration system. Without our free and expert services, they would not be able to navigate our complex and constantly changing immigration system alone.
We serve low-income immigrant families from all cultural and religious backgrounds who are under 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
AI Justice continues to be the only agency to provide free immigration legal services in South Florida.
In the first six months of 2022, AI Justice provided services to 1,705 new clients. We currently serve a total of 5,700 clients.
Did You Know?
Since 1996, AI Justice has served over 145,000 immigrants from 190 countries.
Ensuring Access to Counsel
Our Pro Bono Program has assisted clients with Special Immigrant Juvenile Status in obtaining work authorization. In addition, it has also been working diligently to help clients get removal proceedings dismissed, thus avoiding the potential entry of deportation orders by the court.
With no right to legal counsel in immigration proceedings, Pro Bono legal volunteers are vital to filling in the gaps between the legal needs of immigrants and their ability to connect with attorneys.
Did You Know?
It is estimated that open immigration cases to determine legal status average nearly 5 years due to an immigration court backlog that has been getting longer for more than a decade.
Keeping Families Together
AI Justice’s Family Defense Program continues to be at the frontlines helping immigrants eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which provides temporary relief to nationals of certain countries experiencing conditions that make it difficult or unsafe to return. Venezuelan and Haitian immigrants are two of the largest communities that benefited from this designation, along with nationals of 15 other countries.
This year we conducted 14 legal clinics that have served 300 people eligible for Temporary Protected Status who reside in South Florida.
As Haiti’s economic and political crisis worsens, more people are fleeing harsh conditions and trying to reach safety in the United States. Haitian boat arrivals and border crossings have significantly increased in the past year. AI Justice has been dedicated since its inception to protecting the Haitian community in the US. In recent years, Haitians have been particularly targeted for deportation. It is estimated that over 25,000 Haitians have been deported since January 2021, despite the dangers they face in their native country.
Did You Know?
In April, Ukraine was added to the list of countries designated for TPS. Our team immediately jumped to assist Ukrainians in South Florida to obtain this immigration relief.
Defending Children’s Rights
Children continue to arrive at our borders and in our communities. According to the Department of Homeland Security, over 100,000 unaccompanied children have arrived in the United States in FY2022.
AI Justice is the only organization in South Florida authorized by the Federal Government to provide legal services to detained children. Our Children’s Legal Program continues to work around the clock to serve both detained and non-detained children.
Did You Know?
80% of AI Justice’s new clients this year are under 18 years old.
AI Justice’s Lucha program, recognized globally for helping immigrant survivors of human trafficking, domestic violence, and sexual assault, has over 650 open cases.
During the first half of 2022, Lucha has reunited 13 children with their mothers, obtained 200 work authorizations for clients, and won over 100 approvals, including green cards, U-Visas, T-visas, and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitions.
Did You Know?
Over half of AI Justice’s clients are female.
Fighting for Freedom
Our Detention Program serves as a watchdog on immigration detention practices. Recently, the team has received national attention for its work implementing COVID-19 protocols in South Florida detention centers.
AI Justice continues to work with detained immigrants at Broward Transitional Center and Krome Detention Center in South Florida, recently obtaining the release of 7 individuals. This Spring, we began working at Baker County Detention Center in North Florida, where there are reports of egregious human rights abuses. AI Justice is currently the only legal agency assisting in this facility.
Did You Know?
Since January 2021, the number of people in immigration detention nationwide has grown from 14,000 to over 24,000 as of June 2022.
Litigation and Advocacy Victory
After massive litigation and advocacy efforts against Glades County Detention Center for human rights abuses of detained immigrants, ICE announced that it would not renew its contract with the privately-run facility.
As a founding organization of the Shut Down Glades Coalition – an alliance of local advocates, community members directly impacted by detention, and local and national civil rights organizations – AI Justice sustained pressure throughout the first half of 2022 in its fight to close Glades. We join the Coalition in celebrating our major wins including there currently being zero people in ICE custody at Glades, ICE pausing use of the facility, ICE cutting key components of the facility’s financial viability, and the Coalition successfully stopping the deportation of five Liberian men who were part of an ongoing civil rights investigation.
Celebrating a Legacy
In May, AI Justice celebrated its 25th Anniversary Dinner. Over 40 sponsors and 400 guests came together to recognize and honor AI Justice founder and Executive Director, Cheryl Little, who retired at the end of June. The event raised over $500,000. The proceeds from the dinner helped establish the Cheryl Little Legacy Fund to support the organization’s impact litigation and advocacy work that brings about systemic change.
Welcoming New Leadership
Also in May, AI Justice’s Board of Directors announced the appointment of Ms. Shaylyn Fluharty as the organizations new Executive Director. Ms. Flauharty has the perfect combination of hands-on experience, impact litigation, and advocacy work to step into the role of Executive Director and move AI Justice forward without missing a beat. Ms. Fluharty’s energy and charisma are contagious, and she is a compassionate and highly credible voice for the immigrant population, badly needed reforms, and a better path forward. She will join AI Justice in mid-August.