Your donations can help immigrants | Letter to the editor

To the editor:

This year, One Call For All is spotlighting Kitsap Immigrant Assistance Center (KIAC), a nonprofit providing services to immigrants throughout the West Sound region, including Bainbridge Island. As a board member and volunteer, I urge my fellow islanders to give generously to KIAC so it can continue its life-changing and life-saving work.

While increasing numbers of people — especially women and children — are fleeing political instability and gang and gender-based violence in their home countries, the U.S. immigration system is understaffed and overwhelmed. Citizenship applications take well over a year to be processed. Asylum seekers languish in detention for months or years. Families are still being separated. As I write this, conflicting and troubling reports are emerging about the 7-year-old asylum-seeker who died while in the custody of Border Patrol.

All of this puts enormous stress on our immigrant friends and neighbors. KIAC is an anchor in the storm for them. We represent them in deportation proceedings and bond hearings. We help them get visas and green cards, become citizens, and renew their DACA status.

We take an integrated approach to supporting families for the long-term. For example, some of our clients are victims of domestic abuse. We help them apply for a crime victim’s visa, connect them to low cost counseling services, and provide support for them and their children while they get on their feet. We help clients start businesses and file their tax returns. We sponsor free medical and dental clinics, and citizenship and English language classes. We have a wonderful new prenatal program for women. Thanks to generous and compassionate people in our communities, we are able to serve more people each year.

But the urgent need is growing too. We’re staffed almost entirely by volunteers, so your donations will have a direct impact on immigrants. I hope you will give as generously as you can.

ALTHEA PAULSON

Bainbridge Island

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