Joliet— The Spanish Community Center has expanded from one individual immigration specialist to a team of four, made possible by funding from the State of Illinois’ Illinois Welcoming Center program, the New Americans Initiative, and the Immigrant Family Resource Program. These initiatives all have the common goal of aiding immigrant and/or refugee communities.
This funding allows the Spanish Community Center to offer waivers to qualifying individuals to cover citizenship and DACA professional fees through June 30th , 2017. Immigration services also include guardianship letters and family preparation plans, as well as Know Your Rights workshops and citizenship classes.
The Spanish Community Center remains one of the few BIA certified nonprofits in Will County, allowing staff to practice immigration law without being lawyers. The Spanish Community Center’s initial consultation fee is $25, compared to the average $100 to $250 initial consultation fee one may expect from a private law firm.
“The Spanish Community Center welcomes people of all backgrounds, and we serve as a one-stop shop of bilingual social services. With our new immigration team, we plan to meet the need for quality and affordable immigration services in the southwest suburbs,” said Veronica Gloria, the new Executive Director at the Spanish Community Center.
The new members of the team include Stephanie Castillo, Angel Contreras, and Martinez, who are joining senior team member Monica Vasquez. They are all bilingual college graduates and Joliet natives.
Castillo and Martinez both hold a B.A. in Political Science from the University of St. Francis, with a concentration in Pre-Law. Castillo has volunteered and held positions in Joliet and Chicago, while traveling to do service around the world. Martinez has volunteered as a community organizer for local campaigns and supported voter registration since 2009.
Contreras studied History and Government at William Penn University, with a concentration in pre-law. Contreras was an Organizing Fellow for the 2016 Bernie Sanders Presidential Campaign in Illinois, as well as a United Way Volunteer/ICIRR NADP Fellow from 2011- 2012.
People interested in learning more are encouraged to call the Spanish Community Center at (815) 727-3683 before June 30th to apply for a fee waiver.