Support Legal Services for Low-Income New Yorkers

December 15, 2014

Dear Friend of VOLS,

While politicians debate what to do about the children caught in our nation’s broken immigration system, VOLS’ Dream Not Deferred Project is helping these kids achieve the American Dream right now, every day.

For example, Ella was brought to the United States as a small child. She was handed off from relative to relative while she waited for her parents’ promises of a better life to come true.

In high school, Ella was a strong student. But when she realized that she would never be able to apply for financial aid for college or work legally without a social security number and authorization to remain in the United States, she began to flounder. 

Luckily, Ella’s college advisor referred her to VOLS’ Dream Not Deferred Project. We determined that as a young person who had been abandoned by her birth parents, Ella could qualify for “Special Immigrant Juvenile Status,” an under-used pathway to legal permanent residency. With VOLS’ support, Ella’s caregiver obtained the required guardianship order from Family Court. We then helped Ella file an application with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The result? Ella’s application was granted. She is now a legal permanent resident of the United States. She is also the first person in her family to attend college, and her future looks brighter than ever.

Ella can tell you in her own words how pro bono legal assistance changed her life:

“When I was in high school in my last year, I was freaking out and worrying about what I was supposed to do next. I was so scared and frustrated, I almost gave up. Initially, I didn’t pass my regents exams due to the stress. Then a college advisor at my school told me not to give up and got me in touch with Volunteers of Legal Service.

VOLS' staff and the volunteer lawyers gave me hope. Now I have all of my documentation in order. I am attending college and working part-time. I have never been happier and so worry-free. I can concentrate on my studies. I am so grateful for all the time and hard work everyone put into my case – they helped me create a better future for myself.”

With your support, VOLS can clear the way for more students like Ella to achieve the American Dream. Your donation will also enable our small staff of experts to recruit and train hundreds of volunteer lawyers to provide pro bono legal assistance to thousands of low-income New Yorkers through VOLS’ other projects.

Please give generously to VOLS today.


Bill Lienhard
Executive Director