Taking a Closer Look at World Relief Spokane's ILS Department
May 26, 2021 by Jazmine
We fell in love with World Relief Spokane upon first learning of their holistic support of refugees and immigrants within the Spokane community, and it has been our joy to learn more about the lives they impact and the services they offer. Rogue Heart had the chance to work with the World Relief team this spring with a specific focus on their Immigration Legal Services (ILS) program to help share more about the essential services their staff of legal professionals provide here in Spokane. Receiving refugees and immigrants into our country is a long road, and attaining legal status, residency, and eventual citizenship is another complicated process. Many immigrants don’t know where to begin, and instead end up living under the pressure and fear of deportation. The team at World Relief ILS help vulnerable individuals and families in our city by assisting them with complex paperwork and processes to gain legal status.
We had the chance to follow Anngie, who is an ILS client who came to the US from Venezuela to visit her brother. Little did she know that she would end up meeting her husband, falling in love, having the cutest chubby-cheeked little boy, and settling in Spokane for longer than her initial tourist visa timeline allowed. Soon, Anngie found herself living in fear of being deported and losing her son – but was able to pursue legal status with the World Relief ILS team through her community connections with Latinos en Spokane.
Latinos en Spokane is a local nonprofit that works alongside the Latino community by offering workshops, hosting outreach events, and providing food and services for those in need. Partnerships with other local service providers are a necessary aspect of what they do, and because Latinos en Spokane is a trusted source of information for the immigrant community, when they refer people to partners like World Relief, clients know they’ll receive respectful, comprehensive care.
Immigration Legal Services (ILS) may sound tedious, but after hearing from the people who’ve taken advantage of World Relief’s ILS program, we can say that the hefty investment of time, energy, and hard work is well worth it. With the help of World Relief’s ILS team, Anngie was able to access legal services at a fraction of the cost and received her residency. Now Anngie is able to live without the risk of separation from her family, and she is continuing to work towards her next goal of gaining U.S. citizenship while serving as the Program Manager at Latinos en Spokane.
The benefit of having a strong immigrant community is apparent when hearing where their stories begin, and continue to be inspiring as we see how families are thriving years later. Igor and his family arrived in America from Ukraine as refugees in 2015. Then in 2017, after his favorite local coffee shop closed its doors, Igor endeavored to open up his own business in its place, which he named Cedar Coffee. We were privileged to first meet Igor around that time, and to capture the start of his new business with our friends at SNAP Financial Access, who supported his dreams in a variety of ways (read that blog post here). Four years later, his coffee shop on Monroe is flourishing. They now roast their own coffee, and serve amazing flavors that you won’t find anywhere else in Spokane (try the honey lavender latte). When organizations like World Relief Spokane, their ILS program, and Latinos en Spokane give our immigrant community a chance to thrive, our city as a whole becomes a better place to live. And for that, we can all be grateful and celebrate our new neighbors.