My first couple of weeks at GAIN were a bit quiet in terms of new clients, but this week we seemed to suddenly receive several referrals. When a new case is referred to GAIN, sometimes we receive a lot of information and documents about the client and their situation, but other times we do not have much with which to work. As GAIN’s legal intern this summer, one of my jobs is to work with the person who referred the client (or in some cases the client him/herself in the case of self-referrals) to find out as much information as I can about the client. I need to find out enough about their situation to determine what type(s) of immigration relief for which the client could qualify, in what language they prefer to communicate and if they need an interpreter, and if they have a case worker, if they would like the case worker to accompany them to meetings with GAIN. After obtaining that information, I consult with one of the attorneys on available times to do intake interviews with them, and then try to coordinate the attorney’s, the client’s, the case worker’s, and often, the interpreter’s schedules. Not only is this challenging logistically, but it can also be challenging to work out these logistics due to language barriers. For example, we had a Chinese client referred to us who did not have an e-mail address and did not speak enough English to coordinate with over the phone, so I had to call a friend of hers that was fluent in both English and Mandarin to coordinate her intake interview.
Another example of how organizing client intakes can be challenging is when GAIN is referred a juvenile client. Working with juvenile clients can be challenging because the immigration system can be difficult for them to understand, and it is important that they and their legal guardian are both present on phone calls and meetings. Also, as I mentioned in my Week Two post, juveniles sometimes also qualify for SIJS, which is a form of legal relief that GAIN currently does not assist with. Therefore, if the client could qualify for this, it is best for the client to be referred to an organization that could help them apply for SIJS.
This week, GAIN was referred three juvenile clients that all came to the U.S. from Guatemala and were detained at the border. This means that all three clients are currently in deportation proceedings. However, the three clients had all been released from the deportation centers to legal guardians (family members in the U.S.) while their proceedings are pending. It is usually a much better living situation for these clients to be with guardian during this time, but it can be confusing for them. Many juveniles and their guardians do not realize that their being released is not the end of their immigration issues, and that they must still show up for their court dates. After communicating this to the clients, GAIN decided that the best course of action for these clients would be to instruct them to ask for a continuance at their first hearings and then refer them to the Latin American Association (LAA) here in Georgia. LAA is very experienced with juvenile cases, especially those involving SIJS. Additionally, the organization is well-equipped at serving Spanish-speaking clients: unlike GAIN they have Spanish-speakers on staff that can translate for them. Therefore, we referred them because we believed that the three clients’ needs would be best served, not by GAIN but by LAA.
In addition to new experiences working with clients, this week I also had the opportunity to explore Decatur, the city just east of Atlanta where I am living for the summer. I tried one of Decatur’s most interesting restaurants: the Iberian Pig. Influenced by the Spanish culinary traditions, the restaurant offers tapas and Spanish charcuterie featuring many ingredients that they import directly from Spain My parents were visiting me from Dayton, Ohio, so we shared several dishes so as to try a nice variety. We had bacon wrapped dates, queso Garrotxa (Spanish cheese known for the flavor of volcanic ash in its rind), jamon serrano (the Spanish take on cured ham or prosciutto), spicy scallops, a chicken dish dusted with Meyer lemon and served with risotto, and of course, classic Spanish sangria.
Bacon Wrapped Dates
Charcuterie Plate Featuring Jamon Serrano and Questo Garrotxa
Refreshing Spanish Sangria
Besides trying Spanish food, we also sampled traditional southern fare at Mary Mac’s Tea Room. This restaurant opened in 1945 when its founder, Mary McKenzie decided to use her excellent Southern-cooking skills to make ends meet during the tough post-World War II era. It is called a “tea room” because in that era, it was not respectable for women to be proprietors of “restaurants,” but they could keep their reputations intact by calling their establishments the more genteel title of a “tea room.” Although it has changed owners twice throughout the years, both of the owners kept the same location and nearly identical food. Today, Mary Mac’s serves a diverse crowd and the walls are covered with photos of celebrities who have dined there. The most notable one that I spotted was of the Dalai Lama. While I ordered more classic Southern fare, (fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, and cracklin’ cornbread) I also tried Pot Likker for the first time. Pot Likker is the liquid leftover from cooking greens that Mary Mac’s serves like a broth soup. I also enjoyed Mary Mac’s sweet tea, or as they called it, the “table wine of the south.” If you are ever in Atlanta and in the mood for delicious, authentic Southern food, I highly recommend you try Mary Mac’s.
Southern Food at Mary Mac’s Tea Room
One final place we explored near Decatur was Kudzu Antiques. Covering 25,000 square feet, Kudzu is a sprawling vintage home store that that has been voted Atlanta’s best antique store since 1979. They had such unique and inventive items like old books that had been carved into block letters and old mason jars repurposed into colorful wall sconces. While we did not end up purchasing anything, it was fun to explore!
Kudzu’s Eclectic Garden Collection