RILA: snapshot of a clinic

AsylumPrimer

As we approach the end of 2017, Restoration Immigration Legal Aid (RILA) looks back with thanksgiving for Restoration’s support: 

  • You helped us achieve a matching grant of $25,000 from the Matthew 25 Initiative. 
  • You turned out in large numbers (and brought friends and coworkers) to staff monthly legal aid clinics. 
  • You provided meals and hospitality for clients and their families. 
  • You prayed and opened your heart to care for those fleeing violence and abuse in their home country. 

We continue to be amazed and surprised by a good and limitless God whose mercies never end and who calls us forth to love our neighbors.  Know that your support has enabled RILA’s more than 75 volunteers to be the hands and feet of Christ to 74 clients since RILA’s start in March 2016.  We hope the following “Snapshot of a Clinic” will bring you closer to the work that you have helped make possible.

Snapshot of a Clinic

Restoration Anglican Church, 5:30 pm:  At a time when church staff are departing and others throughout the DC area are making their way home from work, the first floor on 1815 Quincy Street in Arlington, VA begins to come to life, first with volunteers, then with clients of Restoration Immigration Legal Aid (RILA).

The Volunteers:  tables, chairs, legal expertise, food, prayer 

Two Restoration moms and their combined seven children set up tables and chairs in the fellowship hall, where a meal for clients and volunteers will be served.  More tables and chairs are carried to six colorful Sunday school rooms, where clients will meet with their volunteer legal team.  In a quieter space, RILA’s director of legal services performs a final review of the evening’s cases in which he is involved.  Two DOJ-accredited representatives join him to prepare.  Ten clients will be served this night.

Donated food begins to roll in, as do more volunteers and clients, bringing children and other family members along.  Toys and books (donated – and free for the taking) are laid out, as are welcoming placemats crafted by Restoration children.

New volunteers are welcomed, including two private attorneys, one of whom providentially learned about RILA through a first-time visitor to Restoration who happened to hear about RILA from the pulpit.  This lawyer with expertise in immigration, in turn, brings another lawyer, to assist.

In total, 26 volunteers arrive that evening, bringing an array of talents and passions.  In unity of purpose and with dependence on God, volunteers form a circle in the fellowship hall and, along with clients, pray.  Volunteers disperse to their assigned areas:  lead interviewer, interpreter, note taker, hospitality/child care, photocopier.

The Clients

Most clients are fleeing fearful situations in their home country and are seeking asylum in the US.  They have few resources with which to hire a private attorney and face uncertainty about their family’s welfare in this new country.

One client, as a soccer coach, worked to keep young people in his home country from joining gangs.  He then became a target of gangs and had his and his child’s life threatened.

Another client was a reporter for a community radio station that advocates for human rights and non-violence.  She used the platform to persuade youth not to join the infamous MS-13 gang.  She, in turn, was targeted with violence and fled with her 13-year-old son, leaving her four-year-old behind in the care of others.

Yet another client is in need of health care for a chronically ill child, as well as food support.  A RILA volunteer who is a nurse practitioner provides her with a clinic referral near her home.

The hallways and rooms of Restoration’s first floor stir with activity, as clients come and go, volunteers confer with one another, photocopiers run nonstop, and clients’ children play and laugh with children and adults from Restoration.

Restoration Anglican Church, 9:30 pm:  Furniture is put away; bulging client files have grown even thicker; a meal, prayers, and trustworthy legal advice have been shared.  Clients have departed with the assurance of RILA’s commitment to pursue cases to their conclusion and an understanding that God’s people care and, by extension, God does, too.