Where do you go if your sister in your home country is being persecuted for her faith? If a teenage son who left his family behind to escape harm is now stranded in Europe while the rest of the family has been resettled to the U.S.? When you’re a first-generation immigrant and you want to take steps toward becoming a U.S. citizen?
You need trusted legal advice, and World Relief Sacramento is now here to offer it.
My name is Ted Oswald and I joined World Relief Sacramento in March as a managing attorney to launch a more comprehensive Immigrant Legal Services (ILS) program. At ILS we are working alongside our refugee resettlement colleagues and dramatically expanding our services through hiring full-time staff and placing a new emphasis on engaging volunteers from churches to better serve Sacramento’s diverse and growing immigrant population.
This exciting work reflects World Relief’s mission of empowering the local church to serve the most vulnerable, helping families, communities, and our country thrive.
Here’s how we do it, and how you can get involved.
In short, the ILS program exists to 1) serve low-income immigrants in need of legal assistance, 2) engage and equip legal professionals, Christian and otherwise, to serve their immigrant neighbors, and 3) offer relevant legal education to help vulnerable populations know their rights.
Some might ask, “Why invest in legal assistance for immigrants?” We see ILS as a vital means of fulfilling our biblical mandate to “Welcome the Stranger.” The affordable services we offer are vital for immigrants’ short and long-term integration into their communities. We can help individuals naturalize and become citizens, maintain legal residency and work permits, reunify families, avoid deportation, and protect immigrant victims of human trafficking, domestic violence, and violent crime.
Unfortunately, the services of private attorneys can be cost-prohibitive, sapping immigrants’ hope and the will to resolve complicated legal situations. Many immigrants resort to unscrupulous community agents who mislead and defraud, often jeopardizing their legal status.
ILS aspires to be a source of compassionate protection, empowering assistance, and sound counsel.
By offering consultations and services to our clients we take in the facts, offer a diagnosis, and then provide a solution, all in one place.
We also create transformative volunteer opportunities for attorneys, paralegals, law students, interpreters, and others who choose to take time from their busy schedules to offer consultations, intern, help run naturalization workshops, and complete the applications and petitions that are vital to positive immigration outcomes.
Finally, we partner with churches to offer seminars that help break down complicated laws and explain ever-changing immigration law and policy. This education is a way for churches to concretely minister to struggling immigrants inside and outside of their walls who are navigating the difficult transition to life in the U.S.
I’m passionate about ILS because I’ve seen the way it can transform lives and empower individuals, and how it represents an exciting opportunity to reach our communities and model Christ’s love. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you are interested in learning how you or your church might partner in this new and exciting venture for World Relief Sacramento.
In it together,