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NJ Immigration advocates in D.C.

Sheila on the steps of the Capitol building during AILA's National Day of Action Photo: Sheila Moreira/IRC.

Sheila Moreira, the IRC in Elizabeth’s intrepid Immigration Supervisor, traveled to Washington D.C. this spring with the New Jersey delegation of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), an organization dedicated to fair immigration law and policy advocacy. AILA hosted a National Day of Action to advocate for immigrant rights, laws, and policies. As an experienced immigration lawyer in New Jersey, Sheila advocated on behalf of the many immigrant clients we serve through legal services in Elizabeth every day.

Sheila met with many of New Jersey’s congressional delegation's staffs, including both Senator Cory Booker and Senator Bob Menendez, as well as Representative Tom Malinowski, a former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, in addition to Representative Donald Payne Jr. Congressman Tom Malinowski himself is an immigrant, and Senator Menendez is the son of Cuban immigrants. Given New Jersey’s long tradition of diverse immigration, all congressional representatives and their experienced staff members are familiar with the strengths and challenges within immigrant communities.

Sheila and AILA emphasized three specific areas of concern for immigration lawyers nationally.

  1. Delays within U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on all application have stressed both the system and applicants with serious uncertainty, financial worry, and emotional anguish.
  2. Immigration court backlogs speak to concern over inefficiencies and lack of due process for those in immigration proceedings.
  3. Protections and benefits for Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders are still a very high priority in immigration law and policy.

Sheila and her AILA colleagues also heard Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon speak on current immigration policies. Senator Merkley has made trips to the border to inspect shelters and see first-hand the situation asylum seekers are facing, and has advocated against the current administration's harmful directives in immigration policy.

Sheila’s tireless work on behalf of the IRC in Elizabeth’s clients and vulnerable immigrant communities in New Jersey is admired by colleagues, clients, and peers alike. Since joining the IRC in the fall of 2018, she has visited the border to assist those in need and assess the complications of recent immigration policies, and has now advocated on the Hill in D.C. to educate New Jersey representatives on the legal rights and protections expected for immigrant communities. Keep up the extraordinary work, Sheila!

The IRC in Elizabeth’s immigration services are fee based, but committed to providing waivers for those unable to afford even low-cost legal services. Waived fees are covered by private donations. To support Sheila’s work and promote access to low-cost immigration services in Elizabeth, please click here.