2014 Solas Award Recipient Profile Sister Lena Deevy, LSA
Since 1993, the Irish International Immigrant Center has recognized some truly inspiring leaders by presenting them with our Solas Award. Year after year, we’ve taken time to reflect on the difference an individual can make – locally, nationally, and globally. This year we are delighted that one of our Solas Award recipients will be our own Executive Director Emerita, Sister Lena Deevy, LSA.
Before coming to Boston, Sister Lena was a community organizer in Wales and Ireland. She then led the IIIC’s day-to-day work for 24 years before stepping down from the role last year. Under her guidance, the Center grew from a volunteer hotline to the multi-service welcome center it is today. Tens of thousands of immigrants have directly benefitted from the IIIC’s assistance since its founding in 1989, and many more have benefitted from Sister Lena’s outspoken advocacy on immigration issues. She has worked alongside others to promote the welfare of all immigrants, and to highlight how much immigrants contribute to our communities and to society.
Beyond her role at the IIIC, Sister Lena has been a voice for peace, justice, and inclusion on a global scale. In addition to her work for Ireland she has supported similar efforts in Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua, the Philippines, South Africa, and many other countries. It is a joy for us to recognize someone who has inspired so many to take action over the years, and who has touched countless lives.
IIIC’s Solas Awards will take place on October 30 at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel. Tickets are available at iiicenter.org.
Together for Hope Walk – One Woman’s Story
“My boyfriend back in Ireland died by suicide over 15 years ago. In the aftermath of that, I moved to the United States and buried my feelings around his death for many years. When two close friends of mine in Boston also died due to suicide a few years ago, all of the feelings I’d been suppressing came to the surface. I went to the community meetings following my friends’ deaths and realized that other people had all of the same feelings I had been trying to ignore for the past 15 years. I found the support and hope in these meetings and doing the Together for Hope walk last year was an amazing experience.
“Suicide is something that people just do not like to talk about. We are left with all these unanswered questions and yet suicide is never discussed properly – people just make comments like “Why did they have to go and do that?” Participating in the walk last year put it out there, got people into discussions, and helped us all to realize that it is the end result of a terrible disease. Talking about suicide openly and getting it out there gave me and other people courage to confront these suppressed emotions.
“I feel that after all this time; I am finally reaching some closure. Each time I do a walk like Together for Hope, I feel as if a bit, of what I’ve been suffering for years, is being lifted out of me. That’s why I’m doing the walk again on October 4th.”
Call Iarla to register: 617-542-7654 ext.32 or Check out www.iiicenter.org/together-for-hope
MARRIAGE FRAUD: A BIG MISTAKE
Q: I have heard that some people who are undocumented receive US legal permanent residence based on a marriage to a US citizen that is not genuine, and that there is a good chance that the immigration authorities will not catch on. Is this true?
A: Anyone considering a green card application based on a fraudulent marriage needs to think again. This is a serious federal offense, and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the US Department of Justice vigorously prosecute it.
ICE regularly announces, as part of its enforcement efforts such as “Operation Honeymoon’s Over” and “Operation Knot So Fast,” the arrest and federal prosecution of people for committing marriage fraud and related offenses. Generally, this involves schemes whereby the conspirators collect substantial fees to arrange sham marriages between undocumented immigrants and US citizens and file fraudulent applications for legal permanent residence. However, it also would cover a situation where a US citizen agrees to marry an undocumented person and file a fraudulent application, just as a “favor.” These offenses carry stiff penalties: up to five years imprisonment for each charge, plus a fine of up to $250,000. In addition, the undocumented immigrants involved face removal from the US and a bar on reentry.
When an immigrant applies to adjust status to that of permanent resident based on marriage to a US citizen, the couple is interviewed by an experienced US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer before a decision is made. These interviews focus on questions designed to elicit information about whether the marriage is genuine. The couple also must present extensive documentation of the marriage relationship – birth certificates of any children born to the marriage, joint financial information such as tax returns, leases, and bank accounts, photos, and the like. An applicant does not stand a good chance of surviving this level of scrutiny if the marriage is a sham.
Applicants with a genuine marriage, on the other hand, have nothing to fear from USCIS in the interview, which will be quite brief and conducted in a respectful, professional manner. In fact, we at IIIC meet with couples prior to the interview to discuss the process and ensure that their documentation is adequate. They go to their interviews fully prepared and accompanied by a member of our legal staff.
Disclaimer: These articles are published to inform generally, not to advise in specific cases. Areas of law are rapidly changing. US Citizenship and Immigration Services and the US Department of State frequently amend regulations and alter filing and processing procedures. For legal advice, seek the assistance of IIIC legal services staff.
2016 Visa Lottery Opens
An annual Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, commonly known as the “Visa Lottery,” makes a number of immigrant visas available each year by random selection to people from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. For fiscal year 2016, 50,000 visas will be available.
People born in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland are eligible to apply. Application for the program is online between October 1, 2014 and November 3, 2014, and is free of charge.
The Department of State, Office of Visa Services, advises the public of a notable increase in fraudulent emails and letters sent to Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) program (Visa Lottery) applicants. The scammers behind these fraudulent emails and letters are posing as the U.S. government in an attempt to extract payment from DV applicants.
Applicants who are applying for this program should be aware that only websites with the “.gov” indicator in their website address are official government sites. Many other websites provide legitimate and accurate information but applicants should only submit their personal information on the official DV Lottery website. Sharing your personal information on an illegitimate website also increases the risk of identity theft.
If you remember how the Diversity Visa Lottery works, it will be hard for scammers to get your money.
• It is free to enter the Diversity Visa lottery at dvlottery.state.gov.
• The program is never identified as “The Green Card Lottery.”
• The drawing is random. There is no way to increase your chance of winning.
• You can find out your status only at dvlottery.state.gov.
• You do not pay until you find out that your entry was chosen, and you go to the U.S. embassy or consulate in person for your appointment.
For a complete list of countries/areas by region whose natives are eligible to apply, for information about other eligibility requirements, and for a link to the official application website, refer tohttp://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/immigrate/diversity-visa/entry.html.