LALDEF During COVID-19

COVID-19 Resources

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Legal Services

LALDEF’s legal service staff is out of the office until further notice to help slow the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). We, however, continue to work on cases and client support remotely and are now offering virtual consults to all our community members that wish to receive a no-cost virtual immigration consultation. Appointments are made throughout the week for consultations to take place Fridays from 1pm to 6pm. Please contact Caty Dominguez – LALDEF/Welcome House Office Manager at 609-331-9367 to schedule your consultation (Monday-Friday: 10 am-4:30 pm).

Furthermore, due to continued circumstances related to COVID-19 and newly-issued guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security have determined to extend the temporary postponement of Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) hearings scheduled through Friday, May 1, 2020. All presently scheduled hearings will be rescheduled.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has also extended their temporarily suspended in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices, and application support centers (ASCs) until May 4th, when they plan to begin re-opening unless the public closures are extended further. USCIS field offices will send notices to applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments and naturalization ceremonies impacted by the extended temporary closure.

USCIS asylum offices will send interview cancellation notices and automatically reschedule asylum interviews. When the interview is rescheduled, asylum applicants will receive a new interview notice with the new time, date and location of the interview. When USCIS again resumes normal operations, USCIS will automatically reschedule ASC appointments due to the temporary office closure.

Further notes for clients attending in-person check-ins with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) The office of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) - Newark will temporarily change in-person reporting requirements to telephonic reporting. Individuals who are required to report to a deportation case officer will be able to report telephonically at:

Mt. Laurel Office (856) 787-3499
Newark Office (973) 645-3666

Individuals will need to provide the following:

  • Case/File No. (A#)
  • Current Address
  • Current Phone Number
  • Case Officer Name (if known)
  • Status or Updates of their case/situation

Please rest assured our legal services staff is keeping up with the immigration policy effects of COVID-19 and will continue to provide updates as the situation develops.

Adult Education

Education and precautions are the strongest tools against infection. Get the latest facts by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 website. Continue to practice good health habits, refrain from handshakes or hugs as greetings, and wash hands and clean surfaces appropriately.

The Adult Education team has been strategizing how best to continue our ESL classes by way of virtual instruction. We have chosen to suspend our other Adult Ed programs at the moment (HSE, Computer Literacy Workshop, One on one ESL Tutoring). Because many students do not have access to personal computers, our challenge is to find a platform that students could navigate easily on their smartphones. We found that Facebook, Youtube, and WhatsApp were the most accessible platforms for our students, so we encourage our instructors to use those. They are able to record themselves teaching grammar points, vocab, etc. for their students to watch and then to follow up with group calls on WhatsApp. There, teachers will be able to upload resources and various assignments. Students will be able to send in photos of their HW from their workbooks and ask questions to the group and instructor. We believe that these platforms can not only serve as strong, productive educational tools, but also as a space for community and encouragement during this time of isolation and uncertainty.

Our ESL classes will be taught virtually until the end of the semester, April 9th. Our Computer Literacy Workshop for the Spring has been cancelled. We look forward to a four part Basic Digital Literacy course that will begin late spring or early summer. The HSE Math Prep class will be paused for the time being, but will continue later this spring until the semester's material has been covered. After this, we will be offering a Reading and Writing course as part of the HSE Preparation program. For the time being, individual ESL tutoring has been suspended as well.

Bilingual Case Management: HWMSA

My name is Jessica Hourruitiner, I am the full-time Bilingual Case Manager at Hedgepeth/Williams Middle School of the Arts (HWMSA). In this position, I service the families whose children study in the school’s bilingual program and parents who do not speak English. I work closely with the school guidance counselors, parent liaison, administration, faculty and organizations in Trenton to support families within the school.School is closed due to the Corona Virus (Covid-19) pandemic. I will be working from home until further notice. I will continue to serve as point-of-contact for parents and family members of HWMSA bilingual families. I will continue to provide thorough case management for clients.

As the Liaison between parents, LALDEF, HWMSA, community organizations and Trenton Board of Education, I will be updating the families on the latest news regarding HWMSA.

If you have any questions please reach me at jessica.hourruitiner@laldef.org or (609)379-3053

Community ID Program

Princeton (Princeton Public Library) and Trenton (LALDEF)

In response to the current situation with COVID-19, LALDEF will not be issuing Community IDs at either its headquarters in Trenton nor at the Princeton Public Library (PPL). The PPL has cancelled all programs and events, including our Mercer County ID Card Program, until at least Sunday, April 5. Our mutual goal is to decrease the number of situations where community members will be gathering in groups and minimize time spent in close proximity with each other. If you have any questions about the ID card program, please contact Courtney Perales at courtney.perales@laldef.org or call at 860-978-9218.

Futuro Program

I work with the senior group in Princeton, who are graduating in June 2020. While our students were working with their tutors virtually for the second half of March, the tutors have now returned home and are no longer in Princeton. Our students continue to do their homework every day; I check on them daily, as well as have close relationships with their teachers. If our students need extra lessons or support at this time from their schooling systems, I am their advocate.

-- Liliana Morenilla, FUTURO Program Coordinator—Princeton

Our juniors (our Trenton 2021 cohort) are functioning on a check-in basis with me and working remotely on scholarship applications for QuestBridge. They are also being supported remotely by a team of tutors and TCNJ students from the Sociology Department.

Our seniors (our Trenton 2020 cohort) are in communication with me on a weekly basis and currently receiving their letters of college acceptance. I am communicating with students and parents to answer questions to help them with final decisions about their college selections in these coming weeks.

-- Ana Obika, FUTURO Program Coordinator—Trenton

Our juniors (our Princeton 2021 cohort) have all moved to virtual learning with their tutors.

-- Tulia Jiménez-Vergara, FUTURO Program Manager

Client Advocacy

In response to the current situation with COVID-19, LALDEF will be closed until further notice. We have cancelled all our in-person advocacy efforts, including our Princeton and LALDEF-based Community ID Programs, notary services, and print/copy services. The goal is to decrease the number of situations where community members will be gathering in groups and minimize time spent in close proximity with each other.

However, LALDEF is able to help clients who have access to a computer with the following services: letters, translations, and referrals to other agencies. Please keep in mind we are not able to notarize any documents at this time. If you have any questions about this matter, please email Caty Dominguez at caty.dominguez@laldef.org or call her at 609-331-9367.

Community Organizing

Most of my work is devoted to researching services available to the public during the COVID-19 crisis. I have focused on Trenton, Hamilton, and the Princeton Food Pantry distribution. I am providing our clients information about contacting City Hall Health Services hotlines and other related departments, such as NJ Government Health Department, NJ Government Labor Department, and NJ Government Housing Department. I have been working as a Client Advocate, too, receiving and responding to phone calls, messages, and emails. I have been using Facebook as a bridge to share important information with the community. Our concern with our Trenton community is that they have valid information, so they can prepare and educate themselves regarding the crisis that we are in.

-- Laura Mora