By all accounts, 2016 was a difficult year for many. Whether it was the stress of a hard-fought election or the volatility of a changing world, 2016 was quite simply, challenging. With still no real funding, The Clinic at Sharma-Crawford Attorneys at Law (“The Clinic at SCAL”) saw some of its most financially uncertain days.
But while monetary doors remained closed, other doors not only opened, they were removed from their hinges! Five years ago, when The Clinic at SCAL first opened its doors, many questioned its motives and reasons for exiting. Although we always knew that The Clinic at SCAL was destined to drive out the darkness that plagued the Kansas City Immigration Court system, only a handful of us were willing to put our reputation and livelihood on the line to protect the greater good. 2016 finally provided the empirical proof that light always prevails over darkness.
Additionally, The Clinic at SCAL welcomed four new Board members, to join the four existing ones, raising the total number of Board members to eight. Acting as Clinic ambassadors, Board members help promote the Clinic’s vision, mission, and achievements. We thank them for their tireless dedication, support and volunteered time to help keep The Clinic at SCAL on track.
The work of The Clinic at SCAL could not occur without the dedicated efforts of the dynamic duo of Genevra Alberti, Clinic attorney, and Jennifer Lopez-Rodriguez, Clinic administrative assistant. With a little help from their friends at Sharma-Crawford Attorney at Law, these two create the magic that transforms the lives of clinic clients and their families. The Clinic at SCAL remains the only non-profit organization, in this region dedicated to providing representation to indigent individuals in immigration removal proceedings in the Kansas City, MO immigration court.
In the Numbers
2016 proved to be an active year in casework ending with 171 active and open files, made up of 101 men and 70 women, from 16 different countries. In all, since the day The Clinic at SCAL first opened, clients from 32 different countries have found aggressive and skilled legal representation as they navigated through the complex and confusing world of immigration court proceedings. In all, The Clinic at SCAL has provided pro-bono representation in 51; 11 such cases remain open.
Years of Progress
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Protecting the Children
Since 2014, The Clinic at SCAL started seeing a significant influx of children in need of representation as they defended against being returned to war-torn lands. There are currently 71 unaccompanied minor clients, of which 38 are male and 33 are female. This means 42% of Clinic clients are children. All of these children are from the 4 Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Mexico. While most (86%) seek protection under the asylum laws, in 5 cases, the children were granted relief based on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.
A Few Reasons to Celebrate: 2016 Notable victories
- N, married to a United States Citizen, stood accused of making a false claim to citizenship. Such an allegation, if upheld, is one of the worst forms of immigration violations because there no waivers and relief from removal is extremely limited. In this instance, The Clinic at SCAL was able to help the client prove that no such violation had been committed. Upon such a finding, the Immigration Court granted the client’s application for Adjustment of Status, thereby saving the client from permanent banishment from the US. A family remained united.
- L.S. had been in custody for many months without bond. Unable to properly present the equities in the case, the client was desperate. The Clinic at SCAL stepped in and with careful preparation was able to help the Immigration Court recognize that the client was neither a flight risk nor a danger to the community and therefore should be allowed a reasonable bond. The Court agreed and upon posting a bond, the client was able to finally return home to family to await completion of the rest of the immigration court proceedings.
- S, a Clinic at SCAL client since March 2012 was finally granted cancellation of removal, a form of relief based on a showing of 10 years time in the US, good moral character and exceptional and unusual hardship to a spouse, parent or child who is a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident. The client long wait for status is finally over.
- P, a long-term lawful permanent resident of the US, was detained. While The Clinic at SCAL agreed to represent the client at trial, the Court only agreed to allow one week for preparation. Despite limited access to the client and difficulties in quickly getting all of the evidence together, the Immigration Court granted relief from removal and restored the client’s green card. Talk about success under pressure!
- M.P.’s spouse suffered severe medical and mental health concerns. These medical issues would have made deportation unbearable for both the client and the client’s spouse. With the help of The Clinic at SCAL, no such devastation fell upon this family and after a trial, the client was granted lawful permanent residence status.
A Simple Act of Generosity
As difficult as 2016 was, it also brought about a first in The Clinic at SCAL’s history. A very generous donor from New York made the largest donation The Clinic at SCAL has ever received! What an unexpected blessing indeed! We can not express enough gratitude to our own NY angel!
Unfortunately, however, The Clinic at SCAL remains without sustainable funding. While the low bono portion of the client base provides some financial support, it is insufficient to allow The Clinic at SCAL to run solo. Here are some ways you can help:
- Designate The Clinic at SCAL as your charity of choice while you shop using Amazon Smile.
- Make a direct tax-deductible donation to The Clinic at SCAL
- Like and Follow us on Facebook
- Volunteer to help by calling 816-994-2300
- Help us spread the word about the amazing work of The Clinic at SCAL and the lives its work transforms.