Posted March 18, 2015
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the national association of more than 13,500 attorneys and law professors who practice and teach immigration law, has selected the Migration & Refugee Services programs of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Cleveland as the Winter 2014/2015 AILA Pro Bono Heroes Honoree for its Northeast Region.
AILA states that “over the course of the fall & winter months, the AILA National Pro Bono Services Committee solicited nominations of organizations or institutions around the country that promote or contribute to pro bono legal assistance.
‘These organizations are considered role models by their promotion of pro bono as a professional value and their generosity with time and resources.”
“Catholic Charities/MRS works to provide access to justice for lesser-served and vulnerable members of the immigrant population and promotes pro bono service among the private bar. Founded in 1945 and located in Cleveland, Ohio, Catholic Charities/MRS helps facilitate assistance state wide, and has actively coordinated legal assistance in response to the surge in the Juvenile and Family dockets. Catholic Charities/MRS has arranged pro bono attorneys, legal interns, and interpreters to be present at all Juvenile and Family dockets.
Many non-profit agencies have risen to this task in response to the border surge of 2014. What is notable about the assistance provided by Catholic Charities/MRS is that they have managed to provide this invaluable assistance while grieving the untimely loss of an honored and valued member of their team.
Immigration Attorney Sala Gembala died unexpectedly in August 2014, leaving a loving husband, toddler son, infant daughter, grieving family, friends and co-workers. It is a testament to Sala’s memory that her agency and colleagues banded together in the face of this inexplicable tragedy. They continue to honor Sala by ensuring access to justice, and safeguarding legal assistance for the most vulnerable, and we applaud them for their dedication to this cause.”
“We are incredibly humbled to receive this prestigious honor from AILA,” says Camille Gill, Managing Attorney of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Cleveland’s Migration & Refugee Services. “It is a testament to the important work we do for immigrants and refugees throughout the region, and a wonderful way to honor the work of Sala Gembala, who continues to inspire us all.”
About Catholic Charities/MRS: Migration and Refugee Services (MRS), a department of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Cleveland, resettles refugees in Cuyahoga County. As the largest resettlement office in Northern Ohio, we expect to resettle over 300 refugees and asylees this year. MRS is one of 108 affiliates of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB). USCCB has a cooperative agreement with the United States to resettle refugees who have been legally admitted through the federal Refugee Admissions Program.