SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A nonprofit agency that offers legal services to indigent immigrants is experiencing a high volume of clients seeking its services.
Attorneys at the Immigrant Legal Defense Services Center are trying to keep up with the rising number of immigrant cases in Santa Barbara county.
“This isn’t something that we’re just trying to address maybe like a handful of cases and then it’ll be done," said attorney Crystal Canel of the Santa Barbara County Immigrant Legal Defense Center.
Last year alone, 400 unaccompanied immigrant children arrived in Santa Barbara County, creating a high demand for the agency’s legal services.
"Unaccompanied immigrant children are the most vulnerable population and they face a constellation of vulnerabilities … when unaccompanied immigrant children are released from federal custody to family parents and sponsors in the community they faced an enormous lack of post released services … so they’re left alone to navigate the immigration legal services time are the education system the healthcare system," said executive director Julissa Pena of the Santa Barbara County Immigrant Legal Defense Center.
Thanks to a $130,000 grant from the Women's Fund of Santa Barbara, the agency is recruiting a social work case manager to provide crucial support for unaccompanied immigrant children.
"It’s going to be helpful because now my attorneys can concentrate on the legal service program solely, which is what they have knowledge and the expertise for … and the social work case manager will be able to meet the holistic needs of the unaccompanied immigrant child to address the trauma that the child has endured prior to migration, during migration, and after migration," said Pena.
Right now the interviews are under way for the the social work case manager position.
Physically, see how drained they were from everything that happened in their home country traveling here navigating being in a new country and just having that makes me really happy," said Pena.
By providing essential resources, the agency believes the grant offers these children a chance to break free from cycles of poverty and violence.
“And so by having a social work case manager for the best interest of the child inside outside of the courtroom the child can probably deal with that better," said Pena.
If you would like to apply for the position of social case work manager visit: https://www.sbimmigrantdefense.org/.