1 La Mancha Casa Cornelia Law Center, San Diego, California
2 Casa Cornelia Law Center is a public interest law firm providing quality pro bono legal services to victims of human and civil rights violations. The Center has a primary commitment to the indigent within the immigrant community in Southern California. Casa Cornelia strives to educate others regarding the impact of immigration law and policy on society and the public good. Cover: A Domestic Violence Program client and her two daughters savoring the news that her visa has been granted. Story on page Allison Bechill, Editor M Wayne Gradon, SHCJ, Design Printed by Kings Printing La Mancha is a publication of Casa Cornelia Law Center, a sponsored ministry of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus.
3 Casa Cornelia Law Center Dear Friends, December 2012 Once again, I write to introduce Casa Cornelia Law Center s annual report, La Mancha. Like each year past, 2011 was a very full year filled to the brim and running over. Nearly a thousand individuals received quality, pro bono legal assistance from our three programs, an achievement made possible through our expanding efforts to recruit volunteers from the private bar as well as your generosity. The long waiting list of women victims of domestic violence was eliminated, not by wave of magic wand, but through the energy and creativity of our dedicated staff. The dream of having video conferencing access to detained clients at the detention center in Otay Mesa was realized and we now work in an expanded office that will accommodate an increased number of law student volunteers. As you peruse these pages, you will get a sense of the energy that permeates this place and the affectionate zeal of the attorneys, staff and volunteers that make Casa Cornelia Law Center such an important and dynamic organization. I believe you will also come to understand that as we celebrate the good things that have happened in 2011, we are also mindful of the new challenges that confront us. The Children s Program, which began in 2000 and focused exclusively on detained unaccompanied children, has now developed into a comprehensive program serving undocumented abused and abandoned children in San Diego County who are eligible for immigrant visas. These children, some of whom are in foster care and others who are being cared for by Good Samaritans or family members, are now Casa Cornelia s highest priority. Meeting this need will, of course, require additional financial resources. If you have not made your contribution to our Annual Giving Program, please make your gift today and be as generous as possible. Your past generosity has enabled us to provide services to thousands of men, women and children all done on your behalf in the knowledge that this is vital humanitarian work. With every best wish and blessing, I am Lauren Radack Carmen M. Chavez, Esq. Executive Director 2760 Fifth Avenue, Suite 200, San Diego, CA (619)
4 Casa Cornelia Law Center Carmen M. Chavez, Esq Executive Director Legal Staff Elizabeth Camarena, Esq Associate Director, Legal Programs Elizabeth Lopez, Esq Director, Asylum Program Paola Gutierrez Legal Assistant, Asylum Program Andrea Santos, Esq Director, Children s Program Leslie Louis, Esq Attorney, Children s Program Yessica Hernandez Legal Assistant, Children s Program Katie Oldham, Esq Director, Domestic Violence Program Lorie Lopez Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) Accredited Representative, Domestic Violence Program Antonio Estrada Legal Assistant, Domestic Violence Program Adela Mason, Esq Director, Pro Bono Program Anna Leyrer Legal Case Manager Artemisa Valle Interpreter Coordinator Support Staff Allison Bechill Director of Development Mary Wayne Gradon, SHCJ Director of Communications Ann Marie Buchanan Receptionist Boris Espinosa Systems Administrator Artemisa Valle Development Assistant Volunteer Staff Veronica Bonilla The Mission Continues Fellowship Denise C. Harder Ignatian Volunteer Corps Lucy Howell Ignatian Volunteer Corps Sr. Francesca Olvera Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters Contents A Simple Request All the Way Home... 3 Nadifa s Story Prison Notes... 8 City Heights Clinic...12 Children at the Border...13 In a Nutshell...14 Office Expansion...15 Where in the World are They?...20 La Mancha Awards...27 CCLC Touchstone...33 Across the Board Volunteers Donors Audited Financials Client names have been changed in this publication in order to preserve confidentiality.
5 A Simple Request... Twas pulled into the driveway and the man gave Ricardo a wave, Gracias, There was nothing unusual about the request. Puedo dejar mi carro aquí por la noche, Ricardo? Ricardo replied, Esta bien. No hay problema. The battered red Toyota adios. It was as simple as that. A simple request to park a car for the night. None of the children remember the details of what happened that night. It was dark, there was loud banging at the door and they were frightened. There was shouting when the door crashed open and men with guns stormed into the house. Rosario remembers someone saying, Not the children, but it wasn t her mother, Cecilia. They were hustled together, thrown into a dark bedroom and the door was locked. There was more shouting, their mother crying, begging for her life. Then gunfire, lots of gunfire, then silence. When the Tijuana police came they took pictures of Cecilia and Ricardo, hands bound behind them, shot execution style. They took pictures of the red Toyota riddled with gunshots. The children were taken to their grandparents. No one knew which of the feuding cartels was responsible and nobody knew why Cecilia and Ricardo had been targeted. Days later, they found the body of the owner of the red Toyota on the beach in Tijuana and the police concluded that the murders had been a mistake, a tragic mistake. The police advised the grandparents to get the children out of Tijuana. The grandparents had no time to grieve for their Cecilia as the situation in Tijuana became more violent. They had to find a way to get the children to their older daughter who lived across the border. Frantic, they presented the children to immigration authorities at the San Ysidro border where they were taken into custody and placed in the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement in the Southwest Key shelter in east San Diego. When the children were first screened by the staff attorney at Casa Cornelia Law Center, they were still in shock. The first order of business was to get these children released into the care of their aunt and uncle who were living in Southern California with their five children. This would require the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to grant the children humanitarian parole. Once they were safe with family, Casa Cornelia would have time to assess the legal options available to the children. A grant of humanitarian parole would preclude placing the children into deportation proceedings, a traumatic experience in and of itself. With humanitarian parole granted, and the children with their aunt and uncle, Casa Cornelia began legal analysis to gain a more permanent solution
6 for Cecilia s children. Despite the circumstances that brought these children to the United States, they needed to secure visas and provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act determined the availability of visas. Andrea Santos, Director of the Children s Program at Casa Cornelia, determined that the most expeditious route to immigrating these children was through the Special Immigration Juvenile Status (SIJS) visa available to abused and abandoned children. Family with Andrea Santos (third from right), Director of the Children Program. 2 Just before Christmas 2011, the children s visas were approved, allowing them to remain legally in the United States with their family and start the process of healing after losing their mother and stepfather. The three children are currently living with their aunt, uncle and cousins in the United States. In a thank you note from the children s new permanent family, they write: Our family would like to thank you for all the help that you gave us. After consulting with many attorneys, we started to feel hopeless because there was no way we could come up with the money that they were asking for to help us, and letters sent to our local and federal representatives were being returned to us with the bad news that there was nothing they could do for us. Just as we were losing all hope, we were contacted by Casa Cornelia and they started to give us hope. Casa Cornelia not only helped us bring our nieces and nephew to their new home with us, they did it always showing that they truly loved and cared for our family. Every day when we look at our new children and see that they feel loved and safe in their new home with us, we can t help but thank God for all the staff of Casa Cornelia Law Center that made this possible.
7 AAlthough no case is ever routine, the case of Noemi Sanchez initially seemed to be quite straight forward: A Honduran national entered the United States illegally All the Way Home in She was a single parent with an aging and ill mother in Honduras both dependent on her. When Lorie Lopez, a member of the Domestic Violence team at CCLC, asked why she had come, she responded simply: I came to support my family. She was a cooperating victim of a violent crime. Like most undocumented workers, Noemi lived in the shadows. Employment, always uncertain, depended on who you knew in the immigrant community. Somehow, she managed to send money home regularly to her brother, Ricardo, who was caring for her daughter, Carla, and their mother. If things were not going as well as she had hoped in America, at least she was providing for them. Everything changed late one night in January
8 4 Noemi had finished work and the manager and his friend offered to drive her home. Noemi was grateful. They were just a few blocks from her home when suddenly the driver pulled into a dead end and jumped from the car. His friend followed fleeing the scene. Noemi, alone in the backseat, was pulled from the car by three attackers then thrown on the pavement and beaten. She heard one of the attackers threaten to take her to Tijuana to kill her. As she was being forced into their car, a neighbor appeared out of nowhere. He managed to persuade the attackers to back off and when their car screeched away, he rushed Noemi to the emergency room. There she was treated and gave the police a full report and promised to help in the investigation. As a victim of a violent crime and cooperating witness, Noemi became eligible for a U-Visa. The U-Visa is not a permanent visa but qualified recipients can adjust their status and get the treasured green card after three years. During the interim, they are authorized to work. The best part was that her daughter, Carla, also qualified for a visa as a derivative. With the U- Visa s ninety-day travel provision, Noemi could return to Honduras for her daughter. Noemi had been very worried about Carla because an she had received indicated that something was very wrong. When she arrived in Honduras, she was distressed to find a gaunt and frightened little girl. Noemi soon learned that her brother had misused the money she had been sending. Carla was not receiving enough to eat and had been physically and psychologically abused. The local physician confirmed that Carla was suffering from malnutrition. Distraught, Noemi knew she could not leave her daughter in Honduras. Her ninety-day travel document was about to expire. She called Lorie at Casa Cornelia. Immediately, Lorie sought to arrange the necessary interviews with the U.S. Consulate. From the beginning it was a cliff hanger. Initially the Consulate refused to arrange an appointment within the ninety-day window of Noemi s visit. Lorie then contacted the Department of Homeland Security at the Vermont Service Center. Finally she prevailed upon them to intervene with the Department of State to schedule the interview earlier. The Consulate yielded to the pressure but then denied Carla s visa until Noemi provided additional evidence that Carla was Noemi s biological daughter. The clock continued to run. Noemi had three days in which to get affidavits, arrange for translations and provide pictures of herself with Carla. Lorie coordinated all this by long distance telephone. Then the Consulate insisted that all the information previously submitted be resubmitted on new forms. It was a race against the clock. Nonetheless, Lorie rose to the occasion, sending the completed filing by express mail to the Consulate within twenty-four hours. Three weeks later all their hard work paid off and mother and daughter were both approved. They returned safely to the U.S. in September 2011 and are now on their way to becoming Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs). Since their return, Lorie has been tutoring both of them in English during her free time. As someone recently observed, Lorie doesn t just go the extra mile, she sees you all the way home.
9 Nadifa s Story CCasa Cornelia has represented scores of Somali asylees over the past two decades; the names change, but the suffering, violence and atrocities are all too familiar. This posed a real challenge for Elyse Fune, the clinical law student who represented Nadifa in immigration court. Immigration judges have been hearing about the persecution of minority clans by the Hawiye clan for two decades. The pattern of violence in Somalia is well documented and seldom varies. So much suffering, so many atrocities. It takes its toll on judges as well as attorneys. Elyse would need to persuade the judge that although Nadifa was not the first Somali woman to be beaten, raped and kidnapped, she was nevertheless entitled to asylum under the law. Every detail needed to be established, no inconsistencies; everything depended on her credibility. Nadifa was ten years old when members of the Hawiye majority clan first came to the family shop and murdered her grandmother and two uncles. Her family fled their home in Kisimayo, Somalia to find safety in the border town of Liboi in Kenya. Prompted by her parents divorce in 1999, she and her mother returned to Kisimayo to work on their family farm. For the next seven years they lived there in hiding. 5
10 In the spring of 2008, Nadifa met and married a young man who owned a music shop that sold cassettes and videos. Unfortunately, Al-Shabaab, a militant Islamic movement, was becoming the dominant force in Kisimayo. Nadifa described how it all began: During the middle of 2009 Al-Shabaab began to tack messages on the door of my husband s music shop. Al-Shabaab does not let anyone listen to music or watch television because it is against their religion and because of this, they condemned my husband as satanic and warned him that his business violated Islam and should be closed. Al-Shabaab s warnings also targeted me. They told me I was haram (meaning impure ) because I worked inside the music store and did not wear a full-face veil. In December 2009, insurgents from Al-Shabaab went back to the music store. This time, Al-Shabaab gave no warnings; the insurgents entered the store without warning and shot and killed my brother-in-law. Although I was not present at the store when this occurred, I was later told by friends that Al-Shabaab had also shot at my husband but that he was lucky enough to escape. Unfortunately, I have no way of confirming this is true since I have not seen or heard from my husband since that day. That same evening, more than ten Al-Shabaab insurgents came to my home. They demanded to know where my husband was but I could only tell them the truth that I did not know. The insurgents left my home to interrogate my neighbors but before they left, they reminded me that I was a loose woman. Shortly thereafter, four insurgents returned to my home and indicated I should be killed. One of the men carried a rifle. The men began to tear off my clothes and when I screamed, they severely beat me. I was lucky to drift in and out of consciousness that night because the men stayed in my home until the next morning, raping me over and over. Although my neighbors knew what was happening to me, no one offered me any help until Al-Shabaab finally left the next morning. The next morning, Nadifa fled to her mother s home, where she shared her experience with friends and neighbors. But word spread and within the week Al-Shabaab pursued her. They arrested her for making false claims and having relations with a man other than her husband. She was tried, found guilty and sentenced to death by stoning. While awaiting execution she seized an opportunity to escape After my trial, I was moved to another Al-Shabaab compound to await my execution. I was ordered, along with two other women, to dig a new hole outside of the compound. When a phone rang and distracted the guard, we knew it was our only opportunity to escape and we fled the compound. The three women walked for four months until they finally reached Liboi, Kenya. There, a woman took pity on them and put them on a bus to Nairobi, Kenya. When they reached Nairobi in May 2010, they found temporary refuge with members of their clan and remained with them until August. Nadifa s description of her journey to the United States is a route whittled out of fog by a network of smugglers. For $9,400, the proceeds of the family farm, Nadifa traversed Ecuador, Columbia, Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico to find herself at the San Ysidro Port of Entry five months later. Nadifa was detained for many long months at the maximum-security detention facility in Otay Mesa, during which Elyse and her interpreters committed hours to the preparation of her asylum case. Nadifa s readiness depended on her ability to tell her story without hesitation or discomfort. So Nadifa braved the process and committed to repeating her horrific story time and time again. Elyse comments, hearing her story and forcing her to tell it over and over again as we practiced for both direct and cross-examination was pretty brutal. Considering how hard it was for me to hear, I can only imagine how terrible it was to live through it. The thoroughness of this preparation paid off and in November 2011 Nadifa was granted asylum. Elyse tells us that despite leaving her world behind and never reconnecting with her husband or her family, Nadifa is doing very well. She is learning English and enjoying life and freedom. 6
11 Elyse s Story What was most challenging for you in preparing Nadifa s case? The language barrier was very difficult. We had to use a translator every time we spoke. Because Somali is such a complex language, depending on what translator we used, details of the story would come out different. The crux of her story always remained consistent but the problem with asylum cases is that the devil can be in the details. Fortunately, the translator we used and the court translator spoke the same dialect of Somali and everything matched up perfectly! But it was certainly worrisome during the process. Listening to her story and forcing her to tell it over and over again as we practiced for both direct and cross examination was pretty brutal. But, I knew that practicing would help her to feel more prepared and more comfortable when she actually had to testify, so it was a necessary evil. She told me that the practicing had helped calm her nerves and she knew that as long as she told the truth, she would be fine. Looking back, what words best describe the experience? Exhausting, fulfilling, life affirming, and educational. It was a great learning experience for life and the law. I learned a ton about legal theorizing, legal researching, drafting and filing documents, and appearing in the courtroom. I also learned a lot about life because you can t hear a story like Nadifa s without realizing just how lucky you are. Was it difficult to cut through the facts to make the legal argument? At times it was very difficult. If you can t show the likelihood of future persecution, and/or the history of past persecution, you aren t going to win. That is why having a mentor, like Elizabeth Lopez, to review Elyse graduated with her Juris Doctorate (JD) from the University of San Diego School of Law in May, your briefs, your research, and your corroborating evidence was so helpful. She is so knowledgeable at these types of cases and she really helped to hone my legal argument around those all-important facts. How would you evaluate your experience? After court I called my mom and told her that it was one of the best days of my life. Of course I was proud of myself and so proud of Nadifa. I felt really lucky and really blessed. Blessed to have known Nadifa and to have helped win her the freedom that she so genuinely deserved. Also, lucky. Lucky because as a third year law student, Elizabeth Lopez and Carmen Chavez had trusted me enough to give me my own case. They had provided me with training, resources, and support but they also gave me independence. That exercise in trust really increased my confidence and helped me learn a lot about myself I really cannot thank them enough for the gifts they have given me. 7
13 Each year Casa Cornelia screens hundreds of asylum seekers and represents scores. Detained clients are fast tracked that is, their cases move deliberately through the trial phases as quickly as possible. Most are resolved within six months. There are, of course, exceptions. Sometimes these exceptions are unavoidable but sometimes they give credence to the saying, Justice delayed is justice denied. Such was the experience of Eduardo, a Cuban activist who sought refuge in the United States. Prison Notes I was born to and raised by loving parents in Havana Cuba. Everything about my life, up to the age of fourteen, was ordinary. My life changed in 1979 when my Aunt Celia, who lived in our home, allowed me to taste the communist paradise s forbidden fruit La Voz de los Estados Unidos or The Voice. But she warned me never to speak about listening to The Voice. In 1981 I left school and became friends with those who shared my ideals. We were considered antisocial because of our affinity for all things American: music, dress, and the desire to learn the English. We sought contact with foreigners. It struck me that Italian, German and even American tourists were working class people. We had been taught that only very wealthy people enjoyed the wealth that the working class was exploited with barely enough to eat. I realized this was not true. I became a member of the PPDH, the Party Pro Human Rights of Cuba. I became involved politically and met with political dissidents and proponents of human rights in Cuba. As a member of the party, I collected signatures for a referendum to legalize the party and recruited new members. One evening I was introduced to three young members who also wanted change in Cuba. They talked about their aspirations and discussed how the government could be destabilized. Although I did not agree with everything they said, I joined in the banter even suggesting that the regime could be destabilized economically by targeting the tourist industry. I gave the conversation no further thought never realizing it would change my life. 9
14 10 By mid-1989, many people were imprisoned, including members of the PPDHC. For the second time, I attempted to leave Cuba with some friends to seek freedom in the United States. This would be my second attempt at an illegal exit. Before we could get our raft into the water, we were discovered and arrested. After two months I was transferred to the National Security Department. There I learned that the three fellows I had conversed with had been arrested and they had implicated me in a conspiracy against the state. Although no one had actually done anything, we were all convicted as terrorists in a one day show trial televised throughout Cuba. I served eleven years of a fifteen-year sentence. I had been prepared for the consequences of my political activism, but I was not prepared to be convicted for an innocuous conversation. It was a nightmare. Shortly before Pope John Paul s visit to Cuba, I was placed on a political dissident list to be considered for clemency by the Cuban regime. Because I was a political prisoner recognized by Amnesty International, I was allowed to submit an application for refugee status to the United States Interest Section in the Swiss Embassy in Havana. My application was denied, but I was told that I could apply in the future. That opportunity presented itself in 2010 when I presented myself at the Port of Entry at San Ysidro and asked for asylum. I always thought and expected that my arrival in the U.S.A. would be a happy event, never imagining that my request for asylum would result in my imprisonment for eighteen additional months in a maximum security prison. Thirteen years had passed between the denial of my first application and my arrival at San Ysidro, ten years had passed since leaving the Cuban prison. I presumed that I would be treated the same as my compatriots. My imprisonment in Cuba was unjust. What could justify my detention in America? The government (ICE) attorneys were determined to prove that I was a terrorist, a threat to the security of the U.S. They relied on documents prepared by the communist Cuban government, documents that only proved my anti-communist beliefs. The ICE attorney also argued that the Cuban political tribunals, like the one that tried and convicted me, deserved deference and that the conviction proved that I wanted to destabilize the Cuban government. I was incredulous. The U.S. government has been fighting to destabilize the totalitarian regime before I was born. I could not believe this was happening. Six of my Cuban co-defendants already lived in the U.S., having been granted legal residency years before my arrival. As someone who defended the U.S. at great personal risk in Cuba, I was distraught at being labeled a threat to the national security of the U.S. I do not know what I would have done had Casa Cornelia Law Center not been there to help me.
15 Eduardo was not the only one upset by the government s position. Eduardo s case had dragged on for months and months. Because of changes in staff, three Casa Cornelia attorneys had been assigned to represent him over a period of almost two years: Bard Vakili, Josh Chatten-Brown and finally Elizabeth Camarena. Elizabeth oversaw the filing of a habeas corpus writ in Federal District Court to secure his release on bond. After seventeen months in prison, Eduardo was finally released to family members in Los Angeles. Friends and supporters contributed to post the $3,000 bond. Even after his release, there were postponements after postponements at the government s request. There was a sense that no matter what the outcome at trial, the government would appeal, leaving Eduardo in legal limbo. Years of delay loomed. Then on October 12, 2012, the immigration judge granted Eduardo s request for asylum. In an unusually lengthy opinion he articulated findings and applied the law so comprehensively that it was clear that any appeal would be frivolous. Indeed, the thirty-day window for filing an appeal closed and Edurado s ordeal was over.
16 City Heights Clinic F For several years, Casa Cornelia has known that access to quality pro bono immigration legal services was a great need, as identified by the residents themselves, in the City Heights neighborhood of San Diego. Inadequate access to legal services renders the already vulnerable immigrant population of City Heights subject to future abuse. City Heights has a rapidly expanding population of about 65,000 with a median household income of less than $20,000. Half of this population is foreign born, primarily East African, Middle Eastern, Southeast Asian and Hispanic. Many City Heights residents are victims unaware that they are eligible for legal protection. Legal options for indigent victims in City Heights have historically been very limited. 12 In the fall of 2011, a Skadden Fellow, Charlie Gillig, who has committed to a two-year clinic project focusing on the neighborhood s legal immigration needs, joined Casa Cornelia s legal staff. The main goal of the City Heights Clinic is to reach these individuals and provide much needed legal protection. The Clinic has developed relationships with local organizations such as La Maestra Community Health Centers and Somali Family Service, among others. Through these relationships, the Clinic trains local staff on client identification so that they can refer potential clients to the Clinic. A major goal of the Clinic is to empower local community organizations to identify clients and channel their members to seek legal services. At the outset CCLC lacked office space in City Heights. Thanks to a generous in-kind donation of space by Price Charities, Casa Cornelia is able to deliver needed services in the community; be a resource for other community stakeholders and service providers; and provide a place where clients can access legal services without having to travel far from home.
17 CHILDREN AT THE BORDER Continuing the Conversation Casa Cornelia, in collaboration with the Trans-Border Institute, hosted a conference titled Children at the Border on June 1, 2012 at the University of San Diego to examine the recommendations of the Appleseed Report, a study exploring the implementation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 provisions protecting unaccompanied minors entering the United States from Mexico. The goal of the conference was to provide an opportunity for public consideration of the dramatic increase in the number of children attempting to enter the United States. In a closed session, invitees discussed the situation on the ground in San Diego County and the problems associated with fully implementing TVPRA as applied to Mexican children. This roundtable discussion was moderated by Casa Cornelia Board Director Wayne Cornelius, PhD, Director Emeritus of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, and Professor of Global Public Health, UCSD. Participating in the discussion were representatives from the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the Department of Homeland Security, Appleseed Foundation and other U.S. and Mexican governmental agencies. The issue of undocumented children at the border is particularly timely as unprecedented numbers of children are presenting themselves at the U.S.- Mexico border, resulting in new challenges for those that serve this vulnerable population. The discussion specifically addressed the recommendations in the Appleseed Report and explored opportunities for collaboration that will directly serve the best interests of these children. Casa Cornelia Law Center continues to advocate for full implementation of regulations that mandate that no child apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol be returned to Mexico without an affirmative finding that 1) the child is not a victim of trafficking; 2) the child is not a potential victim of trafficking and 3) the child is not under any threat of danger if returned to Mexico. Recently, CCLC was visited by an investigative team from the office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR). Although TVPRA was enacted into law in 2008, implementation moves at a snail s pace. 13
18 In a Nutshell With each issue of La Mancha comes a piece titled In a Nutshell. It s an easy piece and a satisfying one. Looking back on 2011, a year in which Casa Cornelia Law Center provided legal services to nearly a thousand individuals, there is satisfaction but not complacency. There is always more to be done. In 2011 there was a welcome change in the Domestic Violence Program. Some will recall that in 2010 there were over three hundred victims of domestic violence on our waiting list. The length of the list haunted the Domestic Violence Team who worked, and overworked, to whittle it down. But the calls continued and the list grew, forcing CCLC to close its in-take hotline. Then the Immigration Center for Women and Children (ICWC) opened in San Diego, accepting all clients able to pay something and thereby freeing Casa Cornelia to represent those who could pay nothing. ICWC also agreed to provide continued services for all Casa Cornelia U-Visa beneficiaries, enabling Casa Cornelia staff to work its existing files and once again open the intake line. In 2011, three hundred fifty-five domestic violence victims received assistance. One hundred seventy-six victims were screened. Thirty-nine U-Visas were granted and forty remained pending at year s end. Of the one hundred twenty U-Visa eligible petitioners seeking deferred status, one hundred thirteen were granted and two were pending. One hundred victims of domestic violence received Employment Authorization Documents. The Unaccompanied Children s Program also saw increased activity during Two hundred seven unaccompanied children were screened; the majority of these were relocated to other jurisdictions and Changes of Venue were filed for one hundred nine. Fourteen were safely reunited with family in their homelands in Central America. 14 For some, however, a return to their homeland was not an option. Asylum petitions were filed for seven children four were granted and three remained pending. Six children received Special Immigration Status for Juveniles (SIJS) visas. The Children s Program experienced growth in the number of abused or abandoned children in Removal Proceedings who were residing with guardians. Plans to expand representation to undocumented abused or abandoned children in San Diego County who are residing with relatives or Good Samaritans are part of the strategic plan for Casa Cornelia. The Law Center continues to experience success in its Asylum Program. Of the five asylum seekers filing for relief with the Asylum Office in Anaheim, four were granted asylum and one case was pending at year s end. There were thirty-three grants of asylum at the trial level; ten successful appeals to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and the Ninth Circuit remanded one case back to the BIA for reconsideration. Numbers, however, are no measure of what has been accomplished. They neither tell the story nor the truth of what has transpired. Behind each number is a name.
19 Casa Cornelia Law Center 2760 Fifth Avenue, Suite 200, San Diego, CA June Administration Interview Room Extension Remodel Copy Room Domestic Violence Domestic Violence Reception Conference Room Bistro Development Children s Program Work Room I.T. Asylum Development/ Business Office Communications Unaccompanied Children Pro Bono City Heights Interview Room Asylum Associate Director Executive Director Office Expansion Sometimes the things we are looking for are right before our eyes. When the CCLC Management Team realized the Law Center needed more space and that its lease was coming up for renewal, it hustled to explore options. The prospect of moving was not a happy one but the critical need for more offices and work stations for an expanding volunteer corps left them no choice. So off they went with realtors to see what was available. None were suitable. Then a suite adjacent to the law center s current office became available and the owner would build to suit. Perfect! Walls came down, walls went up. Plumbing was moved and the bistro as well. Best of all the work went on as usual and there would be no packing up and moving! So beginning the first of the year the walls came tumbling down. By spring Casa Cornelia offices had expanded by one third its former size. Twenty-four work stations were arranged conveniently near Program Directors offices. Open and bright, the completed renovations were ready to be blessed. 15
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