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Heather TaylorOn the heels of our 19th Annual Gala, where we celebrated the courage of our clients, I feel overwhelmed with gratitude to both new and longstanding supporters who helped us raise over $515,000 to protect hundreds of women and girls fleeing gender-based violence.

Within weeks of this success, our office was soon reminded that the need for our specialized services is greater than ever. In particular, U.S. immigration officials’ recent plans to ramp up ICE raids will impact Latin American women and children throughout our region of whom comprise over 60 percent of our local client base – women like Adela, our 2016 Courageous Client Voice Honoree.

In Greater DC, we are ramping up our efforts to provide representation to Central American women with children (also known as adults with children or AWCs) who are entitled to humanitarian relief under the law despite being captured and held temporarily in U.S. detention facilities.

Less than 30 percent of women with children who recently fled to the U.S. obtain legal representation. Our efforts to educate our clients about their basic rights amid pending ICE raids, as well as boost our capacity to provide trauma informed representation is therefore imperative. Not only will we continually hone our expertise, but also develop materials to train the thousands of pro bono attorneys in our network to serve this population in the coming year.

“Freedom is the most beautiful thing you can have in life”. As I reflect on these simple profound words of Adela, I am convinced that there are no persons more deserving of such freedom than the courageous women and children like her who seek refuge in our community.

The time for us to act is now.