Camino Immigration Services joins the transformation of their city by choosing to see God's dignity in those they journey with.
No one could have guessed what God had in store for Solidarity's Camino Immigration Services. In the past year, Camino has gone from one director, Bethany Anderson, to a team of four, who see clients five days a week. In first months, they were only proficient in two immigration processes. Now, the team is confidently offering assistance for the majority of all immigration processes.
In September, Bethany met a mother from a Solidarity neighborhood in Fullerton. She was obviously burdened and skeptical that Camino could help her issue. As Bethany asked her questions, she determined that the mother could qualify for a green card once her daughter turned twenty-one and was able to petition her.
The hesitancy persisted as the woman shared that she had applied for a green card a year prior, paid the attorney $5,000, and never heard anything back. She was a victim of fraud.
Too often, these fraudulent attorneys are applying for an immigration process the client does not qualify for, thus landing them in removal proceedings and leading to their deportation with a permanent bar from reentering the country. The US law has very little protection in place for this type of fraud, and victims are often left with no options. The desperation of our immigrant neighbors to be right with the law is being preyed upon by those who see their clients as a dollar sign.
This is an area where the Church can step into the gap and be a part of God’s transformation in their own city. In 2015, Solidarity became Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) accredited. After years of hearing stories similar to the woman Bethany encountered, Solidarity can now legally practice immigration law before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and immigration courts.
One of the hopes for the Camino staff is to combat fraud by educating the Church of the need and informing the neighborhood of their rights. When the Camino staff meets with a client, they are able to explain that the business is not available to simply make money, rather it is an organization whose priority is to treat every person with dignity and respect.
As Camino has expanded, one thing has become increasingly clear; the need for quality and affordable immigration legal services greatly outweighs the services available in North Orange County. Since the need is so overwhelming, Bethany hopes to see churches and local non-profits taking similar steps to become BIA accredited as a way to help transform the city. God is using this accreditation as an evangelical tool to share His love and dignity to individuals and families in seemingly hopeless situations.
The Camino staff have been humbled to walk with immigrant neighbors towards hope. Through listening, encouraging, and being financially honest, Camino has been able to join God’s movement in North Orange County. This has been a gift and has allowed the team to grow in compassion and love for one another.
Similarly, your church can be a part of the transformation of your city by becoming BIA accredited. We trust you will be pleasantly surprised as you take a similar journey as Camino.