The COVID-19 meltdown has been reminding me a lot of the previous economic crisis we experienced back in 2008 – 2011. My husband, Andrew Gates, is a home-builder and he was our family’s main support back then when I was working at Catholic Charities, earning very little, and paying big law school debts. Suddenly, Andrew’s work just evaporated and he had no income. Our third child was a newborn. We thought we were going to lose our house, our cars, everything. We went through a lot of panic. We were sued by our credit card company. We made lots of mistakes. But we made it through to the other side.
I learned some valuable lessons from that experience about how to get through times like these, and I have compiled them into a list of tips, which I invite you to download here. I hope that my hard-earned lessons can make things at least a bit easier for you and your family during this crisis.
We at WGV want all of our friends and clients to know that using available resources to get through this time (including unemployment benefits) will NOT be counted against you for public charge purposes.
If you are undocumented, you probably do not qualify for unemployment benefits, but please know that in Texas evictions have been paused, as have many home foreclosures. Many utility companies (electric, gas, water, phone, and internet) are currently NOT disconnecting service for failure to pay are offering generous repayment schedules.
Regardless of your immigration status, it is safe to call 3-1-1 or visit the City of Austin’s Community Resources page to learn about resources available to you and your family for food, health care, utilities, housing, and transportation.
In addition, many private organizations have set up assistance funds for workers who have been laid off. For example, there are funds available for employees of hotels, restaurants and delivery drivers. These are privately funded assistance programs, and applying for them will NOT harm your immigration case.
Finally, emergency medical assistance will not be counted against anyone for public charge purposes. And as always, if your U.S. citizen spouse or children are receiving public benefits such as food assistance (a.k.a. food stamps), Medicaid, CHiP, or WIC, talk to a trusted immigration attorney before making any changes to those benefits.
If you have questions about your specific case and benefits you are considering, please reach out to us at [email protected]
Welcome to 2020! We hope your holidays were peaceful and full of the love of family and friends.
We at WGV are truly thrilled to welcome the new year. This year holds huge promise for our clients, our country, and our values, but ONLY if we all work together to make a change in our government in the November elections. This is a fact: in the United States, the number of people who don’t vote is much larger than the number who do. This means that, if everyone who is eligible to vote actually does vote, our government – and our country – will look much different.
Please understand: We at WGV are not interested in petty partisanship or political bickering. Rather, we want to see a government – regardless of party – that promotes just, fair, and humane policies for citizens and immigrants alike. We want a government that serves us rather than exploits, jails, and deports us. The current administration has used our clients’ suffering as a tool for their own political and personal gain. This is unacceptable to us, and we will do everything we can to ensure that the November elections put people in power who have integrity, compassion, and courage with respect to our country’s immigration policies.
To that end, we will be working hard in the coming months to make sure that every U.S. citizen we know is properly registered to vote. Our receptionist, Cristina Arellano, will become a Deputy Voter Registrar this month, so she will be able to assist any and all of our U.S. citizen clients with voter registration – right at our front desk. If you are a U.S. citizen and you need to register to vote or check your voter registration, please email Cristina
so that she can contact you when it’s time to complete the process. Please note that if you have moved or changed addresses, you need to register again at your new address!
We are committed to working every day this year toward a more just and humane United States. Will you join us?
Many people have a poor understanding of what is meant by “freedom of speech” in the United States. There are many legal limitations that apply to “freedom of speech” and this is especially true for non-citizens. Therefore, if you have an immigration case, please know that the government will be scouring your social media pages, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, What’sApp, and many others. PLEASE do not post anything online that could put your case at risk, such as comments about drugs, crime, or violence, or even jokes that could be seen as degrading toward any group such as women, members of a particular religion, or minorities. And for heaven’s sake, DO NOT post pictures of yourself engaging in illegal activity! After you become a citizen, you can exercise freedom of speech more fully, but until then, please follow the “Grandma Rule”* with your social media activity (*if your grandmother would like it, it’s probably o.k.)!
If you need more information or are concerned about your social media presence, email us or call us at 512-633-1785 to make an appointment.