June 2021 Newsletter
USCIS Announces Additional Protections to Victims of Crime
On June 14th, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced a new process to the U-Visa relief that will allow victims of crime earlier access to employment authorization, referred to as Bona Fide Determination

While only 10,000 U-Visas are made available each fiscal year, USCIS receives more than 10,000 petitions every year (since 2010). As a result, petitioners are forced to wait roughly five years before the case determination allows them to apply for employment authorization. This wait time not only leaves these individuals vulnerable to financial instability as they are not able to earn income, as well as fearful of deportation, but it also can disincentivize victims from coming forward and cooperating with law enforcement because of these extreme wait times. 

This guidance is effective immediately and applies to all Form I-918 and Form I-918A petitions that are currently pending or filed on or after June 14, 2021. 
Immigrant Advocacy Groups Demand ICE Release of Transgender Detainees
Following this month's theme of Pride, eight immigrant advocacy groups demanded the release of transgender and HIV-positive immigrants by letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and acting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Tae Johnson last week. 

The letter states that transgender and HIV-positive individuals suffer regularly in detention facilities from medical negligence, isolation and sexual assaults. The advocacy groups referenced the case of Roxsana Hernández, a trans asylum seeker from Honduras with HIV who died in a New Mexico hospital on May 25, 2018, while she was in ICE custody--Her family filed a lawsuit against the federal government, citing that she did not receive access to basic needs and medical care during her detainment. They also referenced the case of Johana “Joa” Medina León, a trans woman with HIV from El Salvador who asked for asylum in the U.S. in 2019 after she suffered persecution in her home country because of her gender identity. She passed away three days after being released from ICE custody and her mother testified that Medina's request for medical attention were denied. 

Navigation of our nation's immigration laws is already difficult and complex, but that increases tenfold for LGBTQ+ applicants. They suffer the same judgement by our legal systems, who are unsympathetic of their sexual and gender identities, as the countries they are fleeing from. Furthermore, those that have been detained are at a higher risk of mistreatment and illnesses because of ICE's lack of protections for their detainees.
The Secure Families Collaborative remains committed to serving our immigrant communities regardless of color, race, gender or identity, and our doors will remain open to anyone who needs aid without fear of persecution. 
Click Here for LGBTQ resources
Take a break with our Drink of the Month:
With the summer rolling in and the state fully open, it's the perfect time to enjoy the sunshine with a refreshing drink. While Sonoma County offers some of the best wine in the area, why not spice up that wine glass?

While many associate Spain with the cocktail "sangria", the Spanish locals actually consider it a tourist drink. Typically made with red wine as a base and fresh fruit, this recipe can be used as a guideline as you can use any alternatives.
Serves 12 people
Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • 2 bottles red wine 
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 green apple
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Optional: sweetener of your choosing (sugar, syrup)
Let's Get to Mixing!
  1. Dice 1 orange, lemon and green apple into evenly-sized pieces. Squeeze the juice from the second orange into a bowl.
  2. Combine the liquids with the fruit and the cinnamon in a pitcher. 
  3. (Optional) For those with a sweet tooth, add a tablespoon of your preferred sweetener at a time until it reaches your desired sweet level. 
  4. Cover the pitcher and refrigerate between 30 minutes to 4 hours. This allows the different flavors to blend together. 
  5. Serve with ice and enjoy!
As mentioned before, this recipe can be used as a guide so go wild with your preferred ingredients. It's quick, simple, and the perfect way to enjoy the summer day with your friends!
Trump-Era Asylum Decision Rescinded
During the Trump Administration, several precedent decisions were made by the Department of Justice that severely restricted asylum-seekers in requesting protection from domestic and gang violence in their countries. They claimed that that most Central Americans journeying north were already ineligible as they were considered "economic". On the contrary, this left many asylum-seekers stranded (both within the U.S. and outside its borders) and fearful as they struggled to navigate through those restrictions. In a statement by the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies (CGRS) at UC Hastings College of the Law, these precedents had effectively “stacked the deck against people seeking asylum”.

Last Wednesday, Attorney General Garland rescinded those decisions made by his predecessors, citing the executive order issued by President Biden that officials determining asylum eligibility must do so in a manner consistent with international standard. 

In a detailed legal opinion, Garland determined that the decision of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatened “to create confusion and discourage careful case-by-case adjudication of asylum claims” because it improperly created a “strong presumption against asylum claims based on private conduct” rather than the actions of government officials. A large percentage of asylum-seekers come from Mexico, Central America, and South America with fear of domestic or gang violence as their motive for fleeing, and this reversal could potentially impact millions that are currently in the system as well as arriving at the U.S. borders. 

The decision will apply to the immigration courts and to the Board of Immigration Appeals, both of which are under the umbrella of the Department of Justice.
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Updates from Our Partners

Quality Removal Defense Legal Services 

The Clinic remains open for “remote” client consultation. Attorney Jacqueline Brown Scott maintains frequent communication with all clients and continues to update them on COVID-19 as it pertains to their case and its ramifications such as court date postponement. USF remains available for over-the-phone consultations. For more information, please call (415) 422-3330.


Recognizing the Importance of Social Services

Catholic Charities' Resource Navigator Brayan Araiza remains available to clients for all services including trauma-informed care and other mental health and social services. Catholic Charities is currently conducting phone and video consultations for client services. To receive services, please call (707) 757-8409. 


Prioritizing Mental Health during Difficult Times

Humanidad is acutely aware of the multiple stresses currently
facing the community. This is why Humanidad is integrating new modes of operation and adapting its services to continue providing services during this difficult time. Humanidad Therapy and Services (HTES) is also providing wellness calls to clients for connection and support.

As always, HTES continues to provide supervision and training to associates. HTES is also continuing to offer "Convivencias" and individual therapy via phone and video conference as per client requests. For mental health services, please call (707) 525-1515.


Here for Sonoma County's Undocumented Students

The Dream Center and the Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) are closed on Fridays during June and July. The Dream Center's summer hours are Monday to Thursday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Services will remain remote through December. 

The Dream Center is emphasizing services for DACA students regardless of the Supreme Court decision and offers a safe space for students of all immigration status for therapy and immigration services. 
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1260 N Dutton Avenue, Suite 230
Santa Rosa, CA 95401

Phone: 707-856-4988
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Secure Families Collaborative · 1260 N Dutton Ave · Suite 230 · Santa Rosa, CA - California 95401 · USA

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