Flashback Feature: Gulf Coast Immigration Project
In 2005, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita left a trail of destruction that devastated and claimed lives and infrastructure across Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi. As a result of the storms, many immigrants were left in limbo, struggling to cope with lost or destroyed documents crucial to their immigration cases. They faced abuses by unscrupulous employers and fraudulent immigration law practitioners who charged large sums of money for false hope. Standing firm in our commitment to uphold the rights and protect the dignity of immigrants, CLINIC acquired funding to support efforts to rebuild with the financial support of Catholic Charities USA. The Gulf Coast Immigration Project began as a collaboration between CLINIC and five Catholic immigration programs in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Lafayette, Louisiana, and in Jackson and Biloxi, Mississippi, to support one full-time legal representative in each city to serve many of the thousands of impacted immigrants.
Throughout the duration of this initiative, CLINIC trained 32 staff members in program management and immigration law and provided $901,875 in funding to the agencies, which allowed for the hiring and training of new staff and increased program capacity. As a result, the program assisted more than 5,800 individuals with a range of immigration matters, including legal representation for detainees. By 2010, the project was devolved to the local agencies, which continued to hire and train more staff and expand the number of services that the immigrants in the region desperately required.
By 2010, the Gulf Coast Immigration Project had processed:
- More than 600 visas apps for relatives.
- Nearly 300 employment authorizations.
- More than 200 applications for naturalization.
- More than 4,200 immigration consultations.
As CLINIC celebrates its 35th year of dedicated service, it is important to look back at how far we have come in order to move forward to create a truly just and equitable immigration system.