I. Workshops and Other Community Events
The first pillar of Sin Barreras’ Mission is providing group services and workshops focused on Hispanic immigrant community needs. We hosted fifteen such events this year for over 1,200 attendees, (a small decline from 2017 numbers.) Two of these were facilitated for the Mexican Consulate – offering 550 people the opportunity to process their Mexican government documents without an all-day trip to Washington, D.C. Others included a legal clinic, English as a second language classes, a mental health clinic, mammogram visits, a labor rights workshop, and more. Sixty people attended the “Health and Well-Being Workshop” sponsored by SB, the Latina Health Initiative, and Common Grounds, which offered cardiovascular and diabetes screening, massage, acupuncture, yoga, and stress reduction sessions.
We also participated in events hosted by partner entities: a Hispanic Community Day in Lovingston, the Southwood “Back to School Fair,” several interfaith services, three colleague NGO events, and others, providing Sin Barreras information to several hundred people whom we would otherwise not reach.
II. One-on-One Services
For 99 clients requesting general legal consultations, we provided assistance in many “big” topics: detention, bond hearings, job discrimination, divorce and custody cases, court appearances, driving offenses, and others. But we also brought about other quality-of-life improvements. One was assisting a minor whose parents had just been deported and who was moved into Foster Care, but the Foster Care mother couldn’t afford the airplane ticket to get her back home—which we provided. Another was a desperate mother who needed to support her incarcerated son in California but couldn’t afford the airfare. A third was emergency legal representation in court for three clients so as not to inadvertently bring about their own deportation. Another was helping two recently arrived, hardworking and needy adolescents get into school. Our call log is filled with hundreds of such “small” accomplishments.
Immigration: Meanwhile, immigration is the most important issue facing most of the area’s immigrant community. Two years ago Sin Barreras received USG recognition to offer immigration services by means of two Department of Justice-approved non-lawyer volunteers called Accredited Representatives. Benefiting from the contribution of two local immigration lawyers, in 2018 Sin Barreras had four pro bono volunteers providing immigration services. This year, we offered 289 immigration consultations, a 75% increase from last year.
Sin Barreras offers low cost legal consultations Monday through Thursday 2:30 PM to 7:30 PM. To make an appointment please call (434) 531-0104.
III. Advocacy Our involvement in Advocacy, our third organizational pillar, has taken on a much greater urgency than in past years, and our activities were varied and important.
The Albemarle County Regional Jail: Sin Barreras has been an active member of a community effort to lobby the Albemarle County Regional Jail to change its policy of informing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) 48 hours in advance of Hispanics finishing their jail sentences. SB was pleased to participate with other community groups in three different presentations to the ACRJ Board lobbying for this change, and we continue to do so.
The Virginia Legislature: As in the last five years, Sin Barreras organized a “Visit-Your-Legislator Day,” and 16 Hispanic Charlottesville residents accompanied SB Board members in presenting priorities that impact Hispanic immigrants to our lawmakers.
Meetings with Local Political Leaders: Early in the year we hosted a meeting with Charlottesville’s newly elected Mayor and Deputy Mayor. A month later, we participated with 35 Latino organizations in a meeting with Governor Northam. We met with our State Senator, the Honorable Creigh Deeds, in an hour-long discussion on Hispanic community needs. We also hosted a meeting with one of the candidates running for the House of Delegates.
City and County outreach: We co-hosted several get-to-know-you events between the community and the Albemarle County Police Department, one in July, another in December; We also had a meeting with Police Chief of the ACPD and recently with the City Chief to present the Hispanic perspective on numerous issues.
24 hour Hot line: Some months ago we finalized with other active citizens creation of a 24-hr hot line to observe and report on ICE abuses if ICE raids take place. Fortunately, the hot-line has not been used so far, but the response mechanism exists and the Sin Barreras telephone number is manned by volunteers 24-hr.a day.
Public Information: From time to time, we are asked to present Hispanic issues to various groups—not so much Advocacy as “provision of community information.” One such event was to seventy-five members of the Blue Ridge Rotary Club; another was to two Democratic Women’s Associations, of Fluvanna and Madison; another presentation was to Merck Pharmaceuticals at its Waynesboro plant. We believe this is an important Sin Barreras role: to expose the wider (Anglo) community to Hispanic immigrant realities.
Political Activism: Other Sin Barreras political activism has increased dramatically in 2018. We made a presentation at a Community Workshop at the University of Virginia, also participating in several protests at the Staunton Juvenile Detention Center and the Farmville Regional Detention Center, and against the Culpeper Police’s assuming ICE enforcement functions. We also carried out a presentation on public access T.V. interview, an Immigration panel, several Sanctuary events, and the Virginia Coalition of Latino Organization’s (VACALAO) Fifth Annual conference – this year as one of its co-hosts.