“In 2017, I agreed to supervise a team on a pro bono matter representing child siblings from Guatemala who had been orphaned. Following their parents’ death, the children came to Miami to live with an extended family member who is a United States (U.S.) citizen. I was touched by their story and knew how crucial it was for the family to have pro bono assistance, given how challenging it can be to navigate through the U.S. court system and government agencies without proper legal representation.
Working closely with Americans for Immigrant Justice and Christine Smith of the Law Offices of Hernandez & Smith, P.A, we petitioned for custody for the family member of the children. Upon securing custody, a big step in ensuring the children’s safety and well-being, we filed for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status for the children so they could gain legal immigration status in the U.S. and get their green cards. As a team, we did everything we could to help the children feel comfortable as they adjusted to their new lives in the U.S. while still grieving for their parents. All of our team members are fluent Spanish speakers, several of which had emigrated to the U.S. themselves and were able to share their own personal experiences with the children. While many of our meetings were held at the family’s house, we also invited them to our office for holiday celebrations. I will always remember the children’s faces light up with joy each time we sat down together for a meal!
The first of the children’s green cards came through two weeks ago, and again we celebrated together. It was a wonderful day. As I noted when we first accepted the case – this is exactly the kind of work we should be doing as pro bono lawyers.”
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