Administrative Relief Translates into Both Joy and Action for Agencies Like Erie House
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 20, 2014 | Chicago, IL
|Erie House staff and participants march for immigration reform in October 2013.|
President Obama announced Thursday evening that he will exercise his executive authority to provide millions of undocumented immigrants living in the country with administrative relief in the form of a temporary halt to deportations for undocumented parents of children born in the country, an expansion of DACA provisions for DREAMers and opportunities for low-priority immigrants to register with the government and apply for work authorization.
The president's live address from the White House prompted celebration throughout the immigrant community, even as agencies like Chicago's Erie Neighborhood House strategized to meet the growing need for immigration services that will ensue in the coming months.
"This is a significant step toward justice for the community we serve," said Erie Neighborhood House Executive Director Celena Roldán-Moreno, who affirmed the President's long awaited decision. "There's still a lot of work to be done, but we want to relish this moment with the immigrant families who are the heart of our mission."
Roldán-Moreno noted that her organization's Citizenship and Immigration office will be providing a variety of services—ranging from informational sessions and document preparation workshops, to application trainings (as soon as resources are released), to hands-on legal services—to eligible immigrants as the Obama Administration's new plan unfolds.
Accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals, the office already serves hundreds of immigrants each year through classes and workshops that are part of the City of Chicago's New Americans Initiative. Program coordinator Jane Lombardi figures this number will rise dramatically when the president's plan goes into effect.
"Our biggest priority will be providing immigrants with the information and resources they need in order to navigate this process," said Lombardi. "There's still a fair amount of uncertainty as to what administrative relief means, and it is sure to vary case by case. We want to be able to walk alongside individuals and families to ensure they are empowered to become more permanent, valued members of our community."
To that end, Erie House will host a free administrative relief informational session at 1347 W. Erie St. on Tuesday, November 25, at 6:00 p.m. Learn more at www.eriehouse.org/ImmigrationAction or by calling (312) 666-3430 ext. 2122.
Roldán-Moreno pointed out that as many as five million immigrants will still lack a place at the table, so to speak. "While [administrative relief] illuminates a path out of the shadows for millions of immigrants and their families-something for which we are very thankful-there are still millions more who will feel the need to remain hidden," she said.
She added that Erie House will continue working alongside community partners to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform in Washington. "We long for a policy that is just, protects our families and values the many rich contributions made by hardworking immigrants."