Below are just a few of the individuals and families that Mission Waco Legal Services has the privilege to work alongside in the fight for justice.
- Ms. Simpson, the single elderly woman who is taken advantage of by unscrupulous contractors and left with a home with a huge hole in the middle of the floor.
- Ms. Jackson, the single, hard-working middle-aged woman being threatened unfairly with the loss of her home of more than fifteen years.
- Christopher, the intelligent, driven young man who is physically disabled and disadvantaged by the lack of legal status but who so desperately wants to attend college.
- Ms. Mason, the single mom of three kids who is working to get her life back together and stay strong for her children while suffering from ongoing family violence and the unjust loss of a stable housing environment.
- Ms. Jones, who has been separated from her husband for 51 years but has never had the money to get a divorce. Can you imagine the damage to one’s psyche that may cause?
- The Miller family who has to live in fear of an abusive father because they cannot afford an attorney or the system does not provide options for them.
- Mr. Carter, a young man who made a silly and virtually harmless mistake several years ago but is still unable to find a job because of a criminal record.
- Mr. Garcia, the hard-working individual whose employer steals the employee’s wages, not paying him what he rightfully earned.
- The Gomez family who works several jobs that no one else will work, pays their taxes, educates their children, and serves their community, but who are told they do not belong in the only home they have ever known.
- Sherry, the young woman diligently looking for work but finding a very minor criminal conviction from several years ago to be a major, yet unnecessary, obstacle to self-sufficiency.
- It is the inexpressible joy on the woman’s face when the local attorney’s words, “Congratulations, you now have an attorney” offered the necessary legal help to jump-start a new lease on life for the woman who had just about given up.
- It is the undeniable uplift experienced among the young, undocumented immigrants who now know that they may leave the shadows behind and begin to live free of certain unjust fear in the only country they have ever known.
- It is the tears of relief and gratitude on the woman’s cheeks when the judge says, “Case dismissed”, and her family gets to stay in their home a little while longer.
- A Few More Stories… The Reason Why We Do What We Do
- Last month, a local veteran and his wife finally got their Air Conditioning and Heating unit fixed in their apartment. After several unsuccessful attempts to get the landlord to respond to requests for the repairs, this veteran sought the help of the Baylor Law School Veterans Clinic. Through our collaboration with the Veterans Clinic, we were able to represent the veteran in a very simple legal process of requesting repairs — in a way that got the attention of the landlord. Within a few days, the veteran’s AC/Heat unit was replaced and the veteran and his wife no longer had to worry about suffering through another hot summer or chilly winter. The legal process was pretty simple, yet the veteran could not access the “system” because there are very few, if any, attorneys who will take on this type of situation, especially for little to no pay.
- Mr. Jones came to our First Monday Legal Clinic a couple of months ago. After suffering from a work-related injury and spending several days in the hospital and at home recovering, Mr. Jones returned to his place of employment — a mechanic shop — to pick up his personal tools. The employer refused to give Mr. Jones his toolbox until Mr. Jones provided him a hefty “storage fee”. However, this storage fee was never agreed on and fell under no legal requirement. Mr. Jones felt taken advantage of and powerless to respond. Even if he could find an attorney that would take on a case like this, Mr. Jones had no money to pay the attorney’s fees required. But through our Clinic and the help of some volunteer attorneys, law students and professors at Baylor Law School, Mr. Jones is being represented in his efforts to get back property that is rightfully his. And it is not just property, but in essence it is his livelihood, as he has not been able to work and earn a living without it.
- A few months ago, a family was referred to our program. They were being threatened with complete family dis-rupture and a shattering of the only life that the three children had ever known. Faced with removal proceedings and no extra money to hire another attorney, they were desperate for someone to help the children apply for the deferred action for childhood arrivals program. This administrative policy provides temporary legal status for young people who came to the United States before they turned 16 and fulfill several other requirements. Basically, it allows for young people to remain in the only country they have ever really called their home. As we provided the necessary legal services to this family at a low cost to them, each child was able to receive this temporary legal status and continue to pursue their dreams of getting an education and building a better life in America. And it also allowed for the immigration judge to compassionately discern that this single mother family did not need to be shattered by an irrational and unbending immigration legal system.
These experiences and so many more express what words cannot about the necessity of what Mission Waco Legal Services offers. These people are why Mission Waco Legal Services exists. They are the reason we ask you to support us. Providing the unemployed, the homeless, the abused, the marginalized stranger – the “least of these” – access to a legal advocate who will listen compassionately, represent their rights zealously, and fervently seek justice and love with them, for them, and among them.