Consumers Beware During Hurricane Season

Consumer scams are common during and after natural disasters, like hurricanes.

As N.C. residents prepare for the threat of Hurricane Florence, we at Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy urge consumers to also be wary of potential scams as they ride out the storm.

Here are some tips from consumer attorney Ed Byron:

  1. Price gouging is illegal during a state of emergency in North Carolina.
    Charging unreasonably excessive prices for goods and services used to protect life and property in a state of emergency is prohibited in North Carolina. If you suspect a business is price gouging its customers, contact our office or the North Carolina Attorney General’s office right away.
  2. Do your homework on home work and charities!
    Do some research before hiring a contractor to repair storm damage or donating to a charity offering to aid disaster victims. Be sure your money is going to a reputable business or organization.
  3. Don’t ignore the red flags
    Avoid anyone using pushy, high pressure tactics to get your business or donation. If you are solicited at your home and pressured into entering into a contract for roof repair or tree removal for example, you may have the right to cancel for up to three days after you sign the contract.and finally,
  4. We are here to help!
    If you think you may have been the victim of a scam or have questions, please contact Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy. Contact us by phone at 704-376-1600.

 

 

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Calling All Pro Bono Volunteers!

Join Us Sept. 5 for the Charlotte Triage Pro Bono Project Kickoff

On September 5, our Access to Justice Pro Bono Partners Program is launching the Charlotte Triage Pro Bono Project to address a wide range of unmet civil legal needs in the Charlotte area.
What: Charlotte Triage Pro Bono Project Kickoff
When: Wednesday, September 5, 2018
  • 3 p.m. Program kickoff
  • 3:15 p.m. Speaking program
  • 4 – 5 p.m. CLE Trainings in housing, expunctions of criminal convictions, and health insurance enrollment through the Affordable Care Act
    (Note: Housing CLE will run until 5:30 p.m.)
  • 5 – 6:30 p.m. Networking reception

Where: The Ritz-Carlton, 201 East Trade Street, Charlotte NC 28202

Pre-registration by August 29 is required.
Early partners for this project include:
Ally
Atrium Health
Bank of America

Bradley LLP
Brighthouse Financial

Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP
Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy
Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated
Compass Group, North America

Duke Energy
Husqvarna Group
K&L Gates LLP
Legal Aid of North Carolina – Charlotte
McGuireWoods
Moore & Van Allen
Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP
Nucor

Parker Poe
Polypore International – Asahi Kasei Corporation
Premier
Robinson Bradshaw
Troutman Sanders

Wells Fargo, N.A.

 

 

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Protect Immigrant Families: Oppose Changes to Public Charge

Sign up to submit comments opposing changes to “public charge.”

In January 2018, the U.S. Department of State made a drastic revision to the Foreign Affairs Manual to allow federal immigration officials to deny entry to the U.S. for visa holders on “public charge” grounds if they, or their dependents, receive public assistance – including essential food and healthcare assistance, even if they are no longer receiving those benefits.

This is an unprecedented attack on the well-being of immigrant families that undermines the health and safety of our communities by forcing families to choose between meeting basic needs and being able to keep their families together through the immigration process.

The Trump administration plans to expand this policy by imposing these rules on immigrants already legally living in the U.S. and applying for permanent residency. The Federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is expected to soon release new proposed regulations that would apply these drastic new public charge rules to immigrants in the U.S. applying for permanent resident status.

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy fears these changes are already causing families to forgo essential nutrition and health benefits they are legally eligible to receive out of fear that receiving these benefits may harm another family member’s chance of getting legal permanent residency.

What is “Public Charge”?

Federal immigration law allows authorities to refuse entry and deny requests for permanent resident status to foreign born people seeking to immigrate legally to the U.S. if they are likely to be a “public charge.” For decades, under both Republican and Democratic administrations, “public charge” denials have been rare and limited to immigrants who are primarily dependent on government funded cash assistance or long-term institutional care.

Who is subject to “public charge”?

Individuals applying for admission to the United States or adjustment of residency status in the U.S., such as a green card, are subject to public charge unless they fall under certain statutorily exempted categories.

CCLA Public Charge One Sheet Major ChangesWhat’s happening?

If finalized, this proposed rule would disrupt family safety and stability. More families will decline critical access to nutrition, healthcare and housing they are entitled to receive if these proposed changes go into effect, placing unnecessary strain on community resources as more families struggle to make ends meet.

The changes will negatively impact the health and well-being of local children and pregnant women who receive vital nutrition and health support through public programs.

CCLA Public Charge One Sheet consequences“The consequences of these proposed changes are already serious and will be far reaching if they are enacted,” says Louise Pocock, attorney for healthcare access at Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy. “Communities will experience a multiplier effect of increased poverty, hunger, unemployment and homelessness as families are forced to choose between accessing resources to help meet their basic needs and compromising the ability of a loved one to immigrate legally and reunite with their loved ones.”

Across the country, there are an estimated 670,000 children who would lose access to healthcare, food and housing under these changes; 560,000 of these children are U.S. citizens. In North Carolina, 219,000 children are enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP and have at least one immigrant parent and could be affected by these changes.

 Examples of Families Who Will Be Impacted

Who is NOT subject to “public charge”?

People applying to become a U.S. citizen are not subject to “public charge.” There are also certain groups of people who are either exempt from public charge or may get a waiver for public charge when applying for admission to the United States, a green card, or other benefits with USCIS. These include:

  • Refugees
  • Asylees
  • Survivors of trafficking, domestic violence and other serious crimes
  • Amerasian Immigrants (for their initial admission)
  • Individuals granted relief under the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA)
  •  Individuals granted relief under the Nicaraguan and Central American Relief Act (NACARA)
  • Individuals granted relief under the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act (HRIFA)
  • Applicants for Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
  • Individuals applying to renew DACA status

Know Your Rights: Immigrants and Public Benefits

Family safety and unity should not have to come at the expense of stability. Over the last year, we have assisted people who are already afraid to access benefits their families are legally eligible to receive out of fear of having their immigration status exposed to the federal . Even families who would not be subject to the rule changes will likely be afraid to access benefits based on unwarranted fears.

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy advocates for the safety, economic security and family stability for all people, including immigrant families, with the vision of building a more just, fair and stronger community that empowers all to pursue opportunity.

What you can do:

Raise your voice. Join the Protecting North Carolina’s Immigrant Families Campaign (PNCIF) with Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, the North Carolina Justice Center, along with  advocates and families across the state organizing to let local, state, and federal officials know what a devastating effect these proposed rules would have on our communities.

Individuals and groups who join the PNCIF by completing the membership form will receive email updates about the proposed public charge rules and an announcement when the federal government publishes the proposed rules for public comment. We will provide draft public comments that PNCIF members can personalize and submit to the federal government.

Speak out. Circulate this email and share its message on social media to let your networks know what is going on and encourage others to submit comments. The deliberate disruption of families is a moral crisis that we as a community must condemn.

Speak out using the hashtags #ProtectFamilies and #OurAmericanStory. You can also tag campaign members, like Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy on issues that matter to you as well as your elected officials.

Be an ally. Let families know they’re not alone. This change will impact everyone in our community.

Share your story. We need to show our policy makers that real people and families will be negatively impacted by this policy change. You can make a difference by sharing your story. If you or someone you know will be affected by these proposed rule changes, make your voice heard.

Examples of Families Who Will Be Impacted

Action Alert: Changes to Immigration Rules Penalize Families and Harm our Communities

Additional resources for the Protect Immigrant Families Campaign

“Experts Say Legal Immigrants Fearful to Sign Up for Federal Benefits” WCCB Charlotte features Louise Pocock talking about the upcoming changes to the “public charge” rule and the impact it will have on local immigrant families.

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Legal Assistance Helps CPCC Students Find Opportunity

Janessa CCLA WebJanessa, 21, had been taking classes at Central Piedmont Community College in hopes of earning a degree that will put her on a better path in life when she walked into the campus Single Stop office last fall.
A few years ago, she found herself hanging out with the wrong friends and making bad decisions that resulted in misdemeanor charges for larceny and drug possession. The charges were ultimately dismissed, but they remained on her record. She had no idea that these mistakes would follow her into her adult life. It wasn’t until she started applying for jobs that she realized she had a criminal record.

She remembers interviewing for a local retail position and sailing through the three interviews necessary for the job.
“I was doing great, but then it came down to them asking if I had any problems with them running a background check,” Janessa says. “I knew what they would find, so I told them about the charges.”
She didn’t get the job. Every time she filled out a job application, the necessary background check was her barrier – to employment, to a stable income, to opportunity.
A friend told her about the legal assistance Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy offers to students through the Single Stop program. She met with an attorney not knowing if she could even get assistance,. She was surprised to learn she was eligible to have the charges removed from her record by applying for an expunction.
With the help of her attorney, she applied and waited six months for a decision from the state.
In April, a few weeks before graduation, she got the answer that would ultimately open the door to opportunity.
Her application had been approved, and she no longer had charges listed on her criminal record.
“Now I can do anything,” she says. “The whole world is open to me.”
After years of trying to put her mistakes in the past, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy helped Janessa find a fresh start as she heads out into the world with her degree in hand and a determination to succeed.

Learn more about our work through the Single Stop Program.

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ICE in Our Court Threatens Public Safety, Disrupts Pursuit of Justice

As community partners, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and Safe Alliance work together every day to ensure the safety and rights of immigrants who are survivors of domestic violence.

Last week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials entered the Mecklenburg County Courthouse to arrest a woman and her 16-year-old son, leaving her 2-year-old child behind in the court’s day care center as they took her into ICE custody and placed her in removal proceedings. This woman and her son are survivors of domestic violence perpetrated by a U.S. citizen.

Our organizations are deeply concerned that the continued presence of ICE at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse will negatively impact the willingness to report the crime of domestic violence and threaten overall public safety in our community.

Many immigrant domestic violence survivors we assist have been abused, threatened, manipulated and controlled by an abusive partner as they have settled in the United States.  Abusers often attempt to manipulate immigration officials and the courts, using these systems as a tool to further control and psychologically abuse their victim.

The survivors we work with often share stories of perpetrators who threaten to have them jailed or deported if they seek help. It’s also common for perpetrators to fabricate criminal accusations against victims to maintain power and control over them and their children.

We are working with law enforcement and our courts to ensure abusers are not allowed to exercise these tactics and that immigrant victims of crime are able to pursue justice safely in Mecklenburg County.

Similar ICE arrests have increased in courts across the country over the last 18 months even though state supreme court justices have asked the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security to end this practice, citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s description of an individual’s right to petition for redress of grievances in court as “among the most precious of the liberties safeguarded by the Bill of Rights …”

Allowing ICE in our courts deliberately threatens this right and our public safety. The court cannot function if victims, witnesses, and criminal defendants risk deportation simply by coming to court.

Our courts can only serve our community effectively when individuals feel safe coming forward to seek help. The threat of ICE in the court has a chilling effect on immigrants, and its confirmed presence will certainly deter willingness to report crime, silencing survivors of abuse, disrupting the pursuit of justice in our courts and endangering public safety.

Imagine if a loved one couldn’t report the crime of domestic violence or sexual assault because doing so would rip your family apart. No one should be forced to choose between these terrible options.

That is why Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and Safe Alliance believe safety must be our community’s top priority, and we will work together with our partners, advocating against ICE presence in our court.

Download this statement

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We Can Do Better: End Zero Tolerance; Support Family Safety

As a champion for those in need, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy fights for family unity every day. We condemn the Trump administration’s  “zero tolerance” policy, which has led to the mass separation of children from their parents when they cross the U.S.-Mexico border fleeing unspeakable violence and trauma in their home countries.
There is no law that requires the Department of Homeland Security to separate families. Today, the president admitted as much when he issued an  Executive Order directing the Attorney General to request that the Flores settlement be modified to allow entire families to be detained in immigration prisons during criminal prosecutions. Since 1997, the Flores settlement has prohibited the U.S. government from jailing migrant children.  
 
This is unacceptable. If the Flores settlement were modified in the manner proposed by the president, then children would be jailed while their parents are prosecuted. Furthermore, altering the Flores settlement will allow the administration to keep families in prison while they fight their asylum cases – which can take years. The Flores settlement arose because of the inhumane conditions families were being held in. Many of these parents and children are asylum seekers. This is an attempt to prevent Central Americans from availing themselves of our asylum laws, or to punish them for seeking asylum by keeping them incarcerated. The solution to this crisis is for the Trump Administration to stop its “zero tolerance” policy of prosecuting every migrant attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.
Once released from detention at the border, many of these children will arrive in Charlotte to await proceedings before the Charlotte Immigration Court. As Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy prepares to offer them legal assistance, here are additional policies that will impact these families:

Asylum Defense

Last Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued  an opinion overturning protections for victims of domestic violence seeking asylum in the United States. This opinion will require many asylum seekers who are victims of domestic violence and gang activity in Central America to appeal their cases multiple times, resulting in certain deportation for immigrants without attorneys. Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy represents many children and some adults in domestic violence and gang-related asylum claims. The Attorney General’s opinion has made our representation more difficult and will require additional resources.

Protecting Sponsors

Since 2011, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy has been an Office of Refugee Resettlement approved site for the completion of the required background checks necessary for a child to be released from custody to a sponsor. In addition to the background checks, we provide a legal orientation for the sponsors explaining the immigration legal process the children will be subject to. These sponsors are almost always family members of the children. In the event they are not family members, there is a requirement that the sponsor have a pre-existing relationship with the child’s family.

In April, the administration changed these procedures to not only collect fingerprints from potential sponsors, but also fingerprints of any other adults in their households with no guarantee that the information won’t be used for immigration enforcement.These enhanced requirements have created a chilling effect, forcing families and sponsors to ensure the release, safety and well-being of these detained children at the risk of exposing their own immigration status to the federal government. As potential sponsors choose not to accept this responsibility out of fear, children remain in overcrowded shelters. The average duration of stay has risen from 34 days in December 2016 to 57 days. Under this policy, the wait will only grow longer.

Access to Legal Representation

Regardless of what plays out at the federal level, these children and their families will
need legal representation. NO ONE, not even a small child, has the right to legal representation in immigration court. 

Many of these children’s cases will be processed here in Charlotte’s Immigration Court, adding to the already great need for legal assistance here. These cases will add to the more than 300 open cases Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy currently has for unaccompanied children, most of whom, have been subjected to some form of trauma over the course of their young lives. They have witnessed horrific violence or been subject to it in their home country or on their long journey to the U.S. These cases will take years to process through an overburdened immigration court system.

As a community and nation of immigrants, WE CAN DO BETTER.

How to Help

Contact your representatives. You have the power to change this narrative. While the administration has full power to end this policy on its own, Congress is considering legislation that will force the administration to change course as well as enact stronger immigration laws. Urge members of Congress to vote down the two anti-immigrant bills moving through the House this week: one proposed by Rep. Bob Goodlatte and another proposed by House Speaker Paul Ryan. Neither bill adequately addresses family separation and child detention, nor does it offer a lasting solution to the administration’s decision to end DACA. A vote is expected on Thursday, June 21.
Share this message. Circulate this information and share on social media to let your networks know what is going on. The deliberate separation of families is a moral crisis that we as a community must condemn.
Stay informed. Join us for a community teach-in on what happens to unaccompanied children when they arrive in Charlotte and learn about ways to support them in our community. Monday July 2 U.S. Border Community Teach-in Presentation
Sign up for ACTION ALERTS for updates on policy changes as they develop.
Learn more about our Immigrant Justice Program.
Support our work. We fight for family safety, economic security and stability for all people, regardless of immigration status, but we can’t do it without you. We are the largest non-profit provider of legal assistance to immigrants in North and South Carolina. When you give to Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, your contribution goes directly toward our mission of pursuing justice for the most vulnerable in our community.

Give today. Change tomorrow.
Become a champion for those in need.

Donate Now

 

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Your Voice Strengthens Consumer Financial Protections

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is requesting public feedback about its consumer complaint process and how it handles consumer complaints by Monday, June 4.

To date, the CFPB has received over 1.5 million consumer complaints. The complaint database is invaluable to consumers; their advocates; and, our clients. It is often the most efficient and effective way for consumers to resolve problems with large financial institutions.

The complaint process with the CFPB has allowed our consumer attorneys to more effectively advocate for consumers in foreclosures by requiring servicers to respond to complaints about mortgage servicing, loss mitigation, excessive fees and other issues within 15 days after they are contacted by the CFPB. Many times, that will be enough to resolve an issue and save a consumer’s home.

The complaint process also allows advocacy groups to track recurrent problems with various companies and financial institutions. The complaint process gives consumers a recourse when they are treated unfairly or they are victims of predatory practices or illegal fees. Since 2008, the CFPB has returned $11.8 billion in relief to consumers, largely as a result of its complaint process that provides the starting point for any enforcement work.

Comments to the CFPB made be made by clicking their link here:https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/newsroom/cfpb-issues-request-information-consumer-complaint-inquiry/

 

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Detained by 287g

Detained by 287gThe future of the 287g program is on the ballot in the primary for Mecklenburg County Sheriff as residents go to the polls today. For 12 years, the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Department has chosen to participate in the 287g program, a voluntary formal agreement with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to assist in implementing federal immigration enforcement at the local level by targeting, arresting and holding residents living in our community without a legal immigration status.

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy believes these policies have caused great harm to our community by undermining public safety, depriving individuals due process, wasting county resources, and exposing tax payers to possible legal settlements. After 12 years and more than 15,000 deportations in Mecklenburg County because of 287g, it’s time to terminate the program and find solutions that promote community safety while protecting immigrant families.

2018-5-8 Immigration debate in North Carolina election has national implications

Watch immigration attorney Maureen Abell talk about her client’s experience with 287g on the NBC Nightly News.

 

 

 

Ernesto (name changed to protect the client’s identity.), 19, is one of thousands who have been negatively impacted by the 287g program. He came to the United States three years ago from Honduras.

The waves of gang violence sweeping the country has broken his family and his community. As a young teenager, he witnessed the gangs target and murder his father’s side of the family. When his father was ultimately kidnapped and killed, he faced hard choices: join the gang or die.

Instead, he fled; leaving behind his surviving family and the life he knew in hopes of finding safety elsewhere, hopefully in the United States.

Along the way, he met up with others trying to reach the U.S.-Mexico border. They stuck together assuming strength in numbers would offer more protection from the danger they would encounter throughout the month-long journey, using any means of transport available to them.

“When we were crossing in a boat, the boat sank, and two girls died,” he recalls.

Gangs they encountered along the way were just as dangerous as those he fled. A mother and daughter in their group were robbed and raped.

He arrived at the border in Brownsville, Texas, where he was detained after presenting himself to border officials.

“There was no sense of me running,” Ernesto says. “I would have been in more trouble.”

‘Try Not to Go Back’

Because he was a minor when he arrived in the U.S., Ernesto was able to go live with his step-grandfather in North Carolina while waiting for his immigration case to move through the backlogged immigration court system.

He came to Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy for assistance with his case in the Charlotte Immigration Court.  Immigration attorney Maureen Abell advised him to apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, a legal immigration status that protects children who are victims of abuse and violence in their home countries. With this status, Ernesto would be able to apply for and receive a green card, enabling him to remain in the U.S. and build a safe and stable life.

As he waited for his application to be processed, he tried to adapt. It was hard. He didn’t speak English or understand aspects of his new community, but it was still better than the consuming violence in Honduras.

“It’s not easy,” he says. “You try the best you can to not go back.”

He tried going to school, but only went for a year.  There wasn’t much assistance or patience for a teenager who didn’t speak English and had a limited education.

He applied for a work permit and soon found work in construction, working on major projects around the Charlotte region.

His case was moving forward, and he had a strong case for receiving a green card that would offer him the path to U.S. citizenship.

That all changed last fall when Ernesto was riding in a car that was involved in a hit and run. He and the others in the vehicle were arrested after they fled the accident.

“They ran, and I ran too,” he says. “That’s how I got in trouble.”

He couldn’t afford to pay the $2,500 bond and remained in the Mecklenburg County Jail.

By the next day, he had a hold from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) under the 287g program, a voluntary agreement Mecklenburg County has with the federal government to arrest immigrants without legal status and house them in its jail before transferring them to ICE custody.

Because he had already been working with Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, Ernesto knew he had an application for legal status pending and he sought advice from his attorney. Abell advised him to stay in jail and seek additional legal assistance from a criminal lawyer.

“I knew ICE would come and get me if I got out,” he says.

Abell says Ernesto was lucky because he had access to legal assistance that helped him understand his options.

“He didn’t even know he needed a [criminal] lawyer,” she says. “I was able to make sure he knew who to call, and he got really good help.”

He remained in jail until an eyewitness account proved he was not the driver and cleared him of his charges. By that point, Ernesto had spent three months in jail, waiting.

He learned that his charges would be dismissed and that he would be released next day. Instead, ICE agents came to the jail and picked him up.

“They got me, and they wanted me to sign my voluntary departure,” Ernesto says. “I didn’t want to sign.”

After already spending three months in jail for charges that were ultimately dropped, Ernesto was detained by ICE officials under the 287g program and spent an additional three months in an immigration detention facility.

A voluntary departure would have sent him back to Honduras and certain death. When he refused, ICE transferred him to Steward Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia, where the conditions were “very bad” and the guards taunted him.

“I didn’t feel safe,” he says. “The guards made fun of us because we were here ‘illegally.’”

He spent eight days in the same clothes. When he asked guards for something else to wear, they laughed at him and said, “just go buy some.”

When Abell found out Ernesto had been detained, she traveled to Stewart to advocate for his release, which only came after three months at a bail price three times higher than what he would have paid in Mecklenburg County.

Abell shakes her head at how quickly situation escalated after Ernesto’s arrest under the 287g program: “[The police] didn’t ask about his legal status beyond, ‘Were you born here?’ He had documentation on him at the time explaining that he had a green card pending. They should have known he had a case pending. They put a voluntary deportation order in front of him instead.”

Ernesto’s story is one of thousands behind the 287g program that the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Department has participated in since 2006. More than 15,000 people in Mecklenburg County have been deported since the program’s inception. While the Sheriff’s Department highlights deportations involving people convicted of violent crimes, the majority have involved people charged with minor offenses, all while eroding trust in law enforcement from the immigrant community.

“Supporters of 287(g) would have us believe that the program only effects dangerous or violent criminals, but if we look at the all the cases referred to ICE, we know it’s broader than that,” Abell says.

Instead Abell says the program only works to accelerate deportations of people like Ernesto, not to improve overall public safety in Mecklenburg County.

For this reason, only 60 counties across the U.S. participate in the program. It’s also why Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy supports ending the program.

“ICE was notified when he was arrested and charged, despite the fact that he had an immigration case pending,” Abell says. “When his charges were ultimately dropped, he was still held so that ICE could get him, despite his legal situation.”

“No Life. No Future”

Even though the past six months have been a nightmare, Ernesto realizes how lucky he is in so many ways. He’s lucky to be alive, to have escaped gang violence, to have family in the U.S. that cares for him and to have advocates, like Abell, fighting for his continued safety.

He also knows he wouldn’t have gotten far trying to fight his legal battle alone.

“Without an attorney, I would still be [in Stewart],” he says.

And if he had remained in the detention facility without an attorney, there would have been little he could do to avoid deportation, even with a pending green card application.

At the thought of returning to Honduras, Ernesto stares at the floor and takes a deep breath: “There’s no life, no future. My brother was murdered on Saturday. They burned down the house. I don’t know where the family is. The same would happen to me.”

Ernesto is one of hundreds of people in need of legal help assisted each year by Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy’s Immigrant Justice Program. Without Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, there are few resources and options available for free and low-cost legal help in the immigrant community.

As the largest non-profit legal service provider practicing before the Charlotte Immigration Court, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy continues to stand with our immigrant neighbors, advocating for inclusion and fairness under the law to ensure their safety, security and stability in our community.

Read the community letter Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy signed in support of ending the 287g program.

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DACA Update: What We Know

What happened?

On April 24, a federal district court in Washington, D.C. ruled that the termination of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) was unlawful and gave the Trump administration 90 days to explain their reasoning for ending the program. If the administration fails to provide a sufficient response, the court will require USCIS to accept new DACA applications.

Pursuant to another court ruling, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is currently accepting only DACA renewals.

Who does this impact?

Everyone with DACA. but especially young immigrants, who, based on their age, became eligible for DACA after the Trump administration decided to end the program. This also includes people who have always qualified but chose not to apply and anyone whose DACA has been expired for more than a year but wants to reapply.

Who qualifies for DACA?

  • Anyone under 31 years of age as of June 15, 2012;
  • who came to the U.S. while under the age of 16; continuously resided in the U.S. from June 15, 2007 to the present, entered the U.S. without inspection or fell out of lawful visa status before June 15, 2012;
  • were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making the request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
  • are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a GED, or have been honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or armed forces;
  • have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor, or more than three misdemeanors of any kind;
  • and do not pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Things potential new applicants can do right now since they can’t yet apply:

  • Collect your documents including school and medical records, proof of physical presence, criminal record, immigration history, and anything else that demonstrates you qualify for DACA.
  • Start saving money for the filing fee. The $495 fee cannot be waived. There have been many charitable funds to help DACA recipients pay this fee, but you are not guaranteed assistance.
  • Get a legal consult with a qualified immigration attorney. Don’t fall prey to scams, notario fraud, or simply making an uninformed decision. You should know your immigration options and legal rights before filing any immigration application
  • Contact Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy’s Immigrant Justice Program for advice on the issue of first time DACA applications and renewals at 704-971-4790

***Be wary of any individual or organization requesting large sums of money to prepare a first time DACA application at this time. We will not know for at least 90 days whether the government will accept new applications.***

Things individuals and organizations assisting DACA recipients can do:

  • Share this DACA Update Fact Sheet with others to spread the word about what is happening.
  • Refer anyone with questions to Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy 704-971-4790.

 

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Ken Schorr Marks 30 Years as Executive Director

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy is proud to announce the establishment of the Kenneth L Schorr Sustainable Projects Fund in honor of Ken Schorr’s 30 years as the organization’s executive director.

Schorr was recognized for his service with the announcement of the fund at Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy’s “Justice Through the Decades” concluding 50th anniversary celebration April 19, at the Mint Museum Randolph.

Ken Schorr New Executive Director Charlotte ObserverKen Schorr began his service to the organization in April 1988.

Early in his tenure, Schorr made funding diversification a priority to stabilize the organization’s work to pursue justice. This strategy allowed Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy to make the tough, but necessary, decision to stop accepting federal Legal Services Corporation funding in 2002.

The decision was controversial, but the choice was clear: Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy would continue serving people in need, while fighting the root causes of poverty.

Today, thanks to Schorr’s stewardship, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy draws from more than 40 funding sources to annually serve thousands of people in the Charlotte region.

The “Ken Fund” will ensure this legacy continues by going on to serve as a flexible, stable source of funding to support Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy’s integral community services.

Learn more about the Ken Fund and how you can support advocacy for people in need for generations to come.

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