Promoting and advancing legal and civil rights of the Asian Pacific American community, with focus on the needs of low-income, immigrant and refugee populations.
When recently-widowed Lizbeth DeLeon and her 10-year old disabled daughter Alexandra came to ALC to seek assistance (names changed to protect confidentiality), they were confronting numerous challenges to staying in the United States, after arriving from the Philippines in 2006. Alexandra was the daughter of a naturalized U.S. citizen, but had never been recognized as a citizen herself due to a legal defect in her parents' marriage record.
By the time they were able to marry properly, her father developed terminal cancer and soon died. Despite these complications, our attorneys used their expertise to win recognition that Alexandra was a U.S. citizen since birth. Alexandra's mother, however, faced even more challenges. She was a victim of the "widow penalty": when her U.S. citizen spouse died of cancer, she became at risk of deportation and did not have the legal status to remain in the U.S. with her daughter.
In October 2009, in response to the advocacy efforts of immigrant rights groups, a Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill removed the widow penalty. A surviving spouse can now request legal permanent resident status even after the citizen spouse passes away.
Our attorneys immediately worked with Lizbeth to ensure that she would become among the first individuals to benefit from the new law. To continue this critical work, we need your support.
Lizbeth's story demonstrates not only the value of resourceful lawyering on behalf of clients, but the importance of advocacy efforts to change policies that have negative consequences for immigrant communities.