Alexis Bullock found the Clinic through Career Services at Franklin College, where she’ll enter her senior year in the fall. “I love the intersection of nonprofit work with legal services,” she says. This summer, she’ll be assisting Project GRACE and loves having the chance to connect the work she wants to do with her faith. “There’s so much more that the Clinic does for this community that I didn’t even know about and I’m really excited to help,” she says.
This May, Executive Director Chris Purnell shared some of his thoughts on the concept of peace. We also celebrated Mother’s Day by learning the stories of three different Clinic clients who are fighting to give the best possible life to their children.
Emily loved teaching at Exodus Refugee, but in January things changed rapidly. “A week after the inauguration, the first Executive Order happened, and that’s when the ball started rolling,” she says, “We realized we were losing funding; we were losing clients in general, and we were going to be losing staff as well.” Exodus was forced to downsize drastically, and Emily lost her job in the shuffle.
The gangs in Honduras began harassing Ana* when she was only 14. But after being abandoned by both of her parents when she was young, Ana’s support system was minimal. Beta Martinez, who works in the Clinic’s Immigrant Justice Program, says that the gangs waited for Ana to leave school in the afternoons. “They were telling her, ‘You need to be ours,’” she says.
For some time, Mario and his friend were harassed by a local Narco group led by the town’s own Mayor. “[The Mayor] tries to recruit all the boys to be murderers and vigilantes for him,” says Rachel. But Mario and his friend both resisted. This refusal came at a high price, and when Mario was only 16, the Narcos killed his friend in front of him. Mario barely escaped with his life.
Happy New Year! Above is a look back at the Clinic’s photo highlights from 2016–an abundant year filled with abundant life! In partnership with Outreach, Inc., we launched our Homeless Youth Justice Program this year, which allows us to provide free legal services to one of Indianapolis’ most vulnerable, and often-underserved populations. We also expanded our Victim Justice Program thanks to a VOCA grant through the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, helping us to better meet the great need in our community.
Recently, Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic was honored at Exodus Refugee Immigration’s Celebrate the Life Ahead gala. We were given the award for Community Partner of the Year. Elizabeth Standiford, Director of Development and Communication at Exodus, says, “[The Clinic] is a true partner in upholding human rights and you have made such a difference for refugees.”
On August 20, the Clinic held a 1-day event known as Naturalization Day. Hosted by Washington Township at Northview Middle School, volunteers and Clinic staff served 62 individual clients on the path to citizenship. According to Immigrant Justice Program Manager Brandon Fitzsimmons, tackling such a process in a single day is beneficial to everyone involved, with a higher volume of clients served in a much shorter timeframe. “We’re looking at 2 possibly 3 months of meetings, revisions, signings—everything truncated,” he says. “[Naturalization Day] is a benefit to the client and it also allows us to be more efficient with our own production.”
What exactly is a refugee? What kinds of screening processes do refugees undergo before entering the United States? What barriers do they typically face and what kinds of services are available to help them integrate into our community?
Join host Ashley Caveda for Part 1 of our special two-part series on Immigration and Refugees. She discusses common questions and misconceptions regarding refugees with Director of Outreach & Immigration Services at Exodus Refugee Megan Hochbein and Immigrant Justice Program Staff Attorney Rachel VanTyle.
The beginning of summer has been a time of restoration and of considering our faith here at the Clinic, starting with Executive Director Chris Purnell’s thoughts on the subject. We learned more about the important work that Fathers and Families Center is doing in Indianapolis to help improve the lives of children and families. We were introduced to the face of the Clinic, Alicia Dimas, receptionist extraordinaire, and we learned about how volunteer Audrey Mulholland has become an integral part of our Immigrant Justice Program.