The COVID-19 pandemic that has gripped our nation has not stopped our team at Catholic Charities Hogar Immigrant Services – Legal from providing essential legal services to migrants who come to us for assistance. Nor has the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) stopped reviewing applications and issuing decisions affecting the lives of many migrants.  Our team worked hard to develop procedures allowing us to work remotely with immigrants in need of legal representation. Our phone and videoconferencing procedures ensure health and safety for both clients and staff  – all while safeguarding confidential client information.

Young adults, like this young woman who was born in Bolivia, who brought into the United States by their parents as children have received DACA status.
This young woman, a native of Bolivia, was brought to the United States by her parents as a child. She graduated from Brigham Young University in late 2019. In May her DACA status was renewed.

These services have been extremely crucial for many immigrant youth beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was the subject of a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court had been expected to issue a decision on the future of the DACA program by the end of June 2020 so we encouraged DACA beneficiaries to renew their status in anticipation of the program’s possible termination. During May, despite challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, Hogar Immigrant Services staff attorneys were able to successfully renew DACA status for several clients. We worked closely with these clients to overcome the challenges of remote services, as well limited access to internet and printing. But together we quickly completed the applications, and USCIS often rendered decisions in record time, with some clients receiving approvals just days after submitting their applications!

Just one week after Hogar submitted a DACA renewal application to USCIS for a Bolivian woman in her twenties, we received word it had been approved.

“That is such good news, especially during these crazy times. I’m so happy things were able to get approved so quickly. Thank you for all your help and everything else that you do.”

Bolivian client who received renewed DACA status

For Hogar and our clients, remote legal services have proved to be successful, and we look forward to continuing to celebrate more victories in the future.

Ultimately, the Supreme Court issued its decision in the DACA case on June 18, 2020, deciding that the way in which the Trump administration tried to end the DACA program was unlawful. The decision was a victory for the immigrant community and its supporters, though Congressional action is needed to provide more permanent, long-term status to DACA beneficiaries, since DACA can still be ended in the future if this or any future administration follows the proper procedures.

For more information about the Supreme Court’s DACA decision, please find written fact sheets and recorded webinars, all available in both English and Spanish, on the Catholic Charities website: https://www.ccda.net/need-help/immigrants-and-refugees/citizenship-and-legal-services/community-legal-education/. Bishop Burbidge’s statement on the decision can be found at https://www.arlingtondiocese.org/bishop/public-messages/2020/statement-by-bishop-michael-f–burbidge-on-the-u-s–supreme-court-decision–preventing-termination-of-daca-program/.

For information about Hogar Immigrant Services – Legal or to schedule a remote legal consultation, please call (703) 534-9805, send an email to hogar@ccda.net, or visit https://www.ccda.net/need-help/immigrants-and-refugees/citizenship-and-legal-services/.

_ Marta Hernandez Araujo, Hogar Staff Attorney, and Stacy Jones, Hogar Program Director