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Recently, I had the opportunity to serve as an intake specialist and interview our new arrival families from Afghanistan.

Since the fall of Kabul in 2021, our team has been in constant communication with numerous partners and coordinating agencies dedicated to serving the needs of hundreds of new friends evacuated from Afghanistan. The stories and challenges that are shared through intake interviews are diverse, heartbreaking, and very important. 

I want to take a moment to thank the fantastic individuals who have stepped into serving as volunteers interviewers, greeters, and administrators. I know first-hand the weight of the work and the burden we’ve asked you to carry with us.

Thank you, sincerely, from all of your fellow advocates. 

In the coming weeks, we’ll be shifting into full-scale asylum applications for many of these families, with attorneys prepared and trained in partnership with the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, MIRC. We’re seeking attorneys who can be trained in asylum case preparation – and urging any advocates with experience in the legal field to attend a webinar on March 22nd. Register here. It’s a critical first step to ensure the futures of our newest neighbors for those with expertise and the capacity to help.

Amazingly, Lighthouse has been awarded grants and received generous financial support from local foundations and donors to credibly fund this expansion of services, including $40,000 from the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation and $30,000 from the Community Foundation of the Holland / Zeeland Area. We are extremely grateful for the investment made by our partners, as well as to dozens of supporters, who have joined us to cover additional staffing, interpretation costs, supplies, equipment, and materials to prepare families for the asylum application process. We’ll share more details about the future of this program in the coming weeks.

To address the issue, as an immigration law office and advocacy center – we have been heartbroken at the unfolding events in Ukraine. We recently shared a brief statement on our ongoing commitment to serve immigrants and refugees from across the globe, which we invite you to read here: “On Ukraine, 2022”. We don’t yet know what will happen. Whatever comes here to West Michigan – we’ll continue to work with you and our supporters to provide service to assist all neighbors.

Other quick notes:

Our team has grown, expanding our capacity in 2022! Please say hello to new members of our team: 

Angel Hernandez serves our community as an Administrative Assistant, and we couldn’t have asked for a more professional, welcoming face to visitors and clients. (full bio)

Maggie Haveman-Gould joined the team as Executive Legal Assistant, taking on duties that assist our legal services program. She served as a volunteer in the fall for our efforts to address the legal needs of Afghan evacuees. (full bio)

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Internships 2022

We’re interviewing potential interns for the spring and summer programs. Expanding from legal services and nonprofit communications, we’re also recruiting interns who wish to gain invaluable experience serving asylum seekers. Learn more (and refer someone you know) here: link

 

Advocacy Call to Action: Afghan Adjustment Act

Please get in touch with your senators and representatives and urge them to act on legislation to provide clear pathways for Afghan new arrivals. Suggested wording, contact info, and a summary of the bill are all here: Take Action.

 

With my warmest gratitude,

David Lee,
on behalf of Lighthouse Immigrant Advocates

Post Author: David Lee

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