CARECEN serves and empowers Latinos in the Greater Washington area through direct services, education and civic engagement.
CARECEN was founded in 1981 to protect the rights of refugees arriving from conflict in Central America and provide direct legal services that would facilitate the process of transition to the United States. Over the course of its 30-year history, the organization has grown and addressed broader areas of community service and economic development, establishing itself as an advocate on critical policy issues, particularly those related to immigration, civil rights, and affordable housing.
CARECEN’s mission is to foster the comprehensive development of the Latino population in the Washington metropolitan region by providing direct services in the areas of immigration legal services, housing counseling, citizenship education, while also promoting community economic development, empowerment, and civil rights advocacy and education. In addition to offering direct services to 5,000 Latino residents per year, CARECEN provides education and outreach on vital issues to thousands more Latinos in the Greater Washington area.
LEGAL DEFENSE FUND
The ongoing economic crisis has had a huge impact on nonprofits like CARECEN and the community we serve. The legal program has been hit very hard with a significant loss of funds from private foundations. Immigrant communities are facing an increasingly hostile environment in which local police act as immigration agents, deportations are on the rise and families are being torn apart.
For 30 years CARECEN has been addressing the legal needs of Latinos in the area, protecting the rights of the most vulnerable immigrants, facilitating their transition to the United States, and providing them with resources and tools to become thriving and engaged community members. We need your help to continue providing essential low and no-cost bilingual legal services to Latinos in the Washington metropolitan area. Our goal is to raise $100,000 through the end of the year- allowing us to sustain the legal program at its current capacity, while serving more Latinos in the area at low or no cost and responding to their emerging legal needs.
Like many immigrants, Javier (name changed) came to the United States looking to make a better life for himself and his family back in El Salvador. After spending several years in the United States, he returned to his home country to be with his wife and 8-year-old son. The reunion, sadly, was short-lived. Upon opening a small business in the community, he began to face continuous threats and attempted extortion from local gangs. Haunted by death threats and worried about his family's safety, he moved them to a new town and then fled the country for a second time. This time, he arrived hoping to not only provide for his family, but also to protect his own life.
Several months after leaving behind his family in El Salvador, he faced trouble once again. Walking home one night, he was attacked by a group of people on the street, left unconscious and suffered a fractured jaw and other injuries. He was sent to the emergency room to receive care and treatment.
Days after the incident, Javier came to CARECEN seeking information on victims’ compensation. Our attorneys assisted Javier in receiving crime victims’ assistance to cover his medical expenses and follow-up with health care providers. They also went one step further by suggesting that he apply for a U-Visa, which offers temporary residency status to immigrants who are victims of violent crimes and offers an incentive for cooperating with police and law enforcement. Upon obtaining a U-Visa, immigrants are able to petition for family members to join them. Within three years, they become eligible to apply for a green card, which allows permanent residency status.
Javier was approved for a U-Visa in April 2011 and began the sponsorship process with CARECEN attorneys to bring his family here as well. With the help of CARECEN, in July, Javier's wife and son were able to legally migrate to the United States. Finally, for the first time in years, they are living together, safely and happily, under one roof.
PLEASE HELP INNOCENT VICTIMS OF CRIMES LIKE JAVIER TO FULFILL THEIR DREAM OF MAKING A BETTER LIFE FOR THEIR FAMILIES and BECOME VIBRANT MEMBERS OF SOCIETY.
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