This volunteer project with América Solidaria is undertaken in partnership with the organization Ayuda which supports migrants in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, offering legal, social, and interpretation services. Ayuda’s work includes legal representation of low-income migrants and asylum seekers as well as social services to victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse, infant abuse, and human trafficking. 70% of Ayuda’s clients are of Hispanic origin with the other 30% coming from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe. For over 40 years, Ayuda has advocated in defense of migrants, helping them live a life that is secure and free from violence.
Without considering their legal status, migrants are holders of rights complying to U.S. laws. Facing an unfamiliarity of laws, existing procedures, a complex immigration system, and language barriers, the need arises to support migrants and their access to justice. Ayuda offers legal representation to migrants who have survived domestic abuse, sexual abuse, infant abuse, and human trafficking. Likewise, Ayuda carries out family and humanitarian petitions before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and state courts.
Ayuda relies on the D.C. and Virginia offices. América Solidaria’s project was carried out in the Virginia office and was oriented to legally represent migrants of age and minors with modest incomes who had been victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse, infant abuse, and human trafficking, as well as asylum petitioners. The voluntary activities of Niza Castañeda primarily included: interviewing clients, drawing up their declarations, collecting evidence and proof, preparing petitions and applications with competent authorities. Likewise, she was in charge of carrying out legal translations and interpretation services in Spanish, French, and English.