Sara (not her actual name) is an asylum client with a pending case in front of the San Francisco Immigration Court. Sara fled El Salvador with her three children about two years ago due to death threats against her and her family. Earlier this year, Sara came to SIREN’s office looking for support after her case was dropped by a private immigration attorney. She was desperately in need of legal support because she had a fast-approaching final hearing. SIREN took her case and has a hearing in the next several months.
It is often demoralizing for asylum seekers to have their court proceedings continued, leaving them with anxiety, confusion and uncertainty. For most, it takes several court hearings to resolve issues in their immigration case, and often, single mothers are the most impacted.
With no family or friends in the area and with no financial resources to pay for childcare, many mothers are forced to bring their children with them to immigration court. In addition to navigating the intricacies of immigration court, many women are also forced to deal with the difficulties of showing up the best they can for their children.
Such was the case for Sara, who did not have childcare or available family support to care for her 10-year-old daughter, Natalie. Sara’s attorney at SIREN, Grey, made a public ask to volunteers who could help support Sara and Natalie. Within the hour, Sara was able to find help from Gabi (her actual name), a SIREN volunteer who gave her time to provide childcare. Gabi agreed to meet Sara and Grey at the immigration court in San Francisco and care for Natalie while Sara saw the judge. With Gabi’s support, Sara was able to focus on her court hearing and be as present as possible.
Volunteers are extremely important in our work, not only in supporting with application assistance such as DACA or naturalization clinics, but in moments like these, where their presence can make the difference in a client’s demeanor and mental state in court.