Working Groups

In the spirit of collaboration, HILSC working groups are a integral part of creating systemic change. Our working groups provide a space for members to learn from each other and develop creative strategies for change. Our current working groups include:

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AccessHOU Task Force

About: The AccessHOU Task Force is a dynamic team built from the HILSC network to strengthen the online referral system, to more efficiently and effectively serve immigrant advocates. The workgroup is also working on the Immigrant Disaster Resource Guide to integrate it with AccessHOU and to ensure both are readily available by computer or phone when power and internet are down during disasters. This task force is currently on hiatus.

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Access to Services Working Group

About: Access to Services (A2S) working group includes social workers, navigators, advocates, and organizers who work directly with immigrant clients to navigate social services systems. This working group is first and foremost a support community to non-legal professionals who are often the only social worker  in their organizations. The support takes the form of informal case consultation, collective problem solving, and discussion on updates in state and local policy that affect how immigrant communities, particularly undocumented individuals, fully access services such as healthcare, schools, and housing in Houston. The group also supports advocacy on behalf of immigrant clients seeking services at organizations that are not immigrant friendly.

Chairperson: Marissa Barrera, CILA

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Asylum Think Tank

About: This group tackles emerging issues facing the asylum-seeking population in Houston. The asylum working group convenes quarterly to discuss trends in asylum cases, legal updates, and strategies.

HILSC Contact: Andrea Guttin

Chairperson: Samantha Del Bosque, Tahirih Justice Center

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Crime Victims Working Group

About: The Crime Victims Working Group (CVWG) meets monthly  to increase access to justice for immigrant survivors of crime. The CVWG engages with local law enforcement and advocates for better policies for survivors who are eligible for U Visas. CVWG also provides trainings for judges, prosecutors, law enforcement, and attorneys.

HILSC Contact: Andrea Guttin

Chairperson: Angela Erazo, Memorial Assistance Ministries

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Detention Working Group

About: The detention working group brings together attorneys from Deportation Defense Houston, AILA, and HILSC member organizations to discuss trends in immigration detention, legal updates, as well as strategies to reduce detention. The group meets quarterly.

HILSC Contact: Zenobia Lai

Program: Deportation Defense Houston

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Immigrant Community Outreach Network (ICON)

About: The goal of this working group is to increase collaboration among outreach providers by mapping Houston provider’s geographic coverage areas, creating a system for referring requests for presentations to our members, and creating uniform “know your rights” materials on topics such as public charge and interaction with law enforcement. This working group is currently on hiatus.

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Immigrant Disaster Equity Workgroup (IDEW)

About: The Immigrant Disaster Equity Workgroup (IDEW) comprises representatives from agencies that serve diverse immigrant communities, including: Spanish-speaking immigrants with disabilities, Vietnamese and Chinese immigrants, Muslims, Latine people living in the East End, refugees, and many other immigrants. We came together in October 2020 to address disaster equity, and began working immediately with Harris County Public Health on COVID-19 vaccine access. One of our top priorities today is language justice. This working group is on hiatus.

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Impact Litigation

About: This Working Group came out of the Think.Space vision developed in 2017 to bring together immigrant rights litigators to explore and develop advocacy and impact litigation strategies to bring about systemic changes to protect immigrant rights.

HILSC Contact: Zenobia Lai

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Family-Based Think Tank

About: This group of attorneys, legal assistants, and social services staff discusses trends and issues with family-based petitions and other affirmative petitions before USCIS. In 2020, they focused on the Trump-era public charge guidelines. The think tank convenes quarterly to discuss legal updates and strategies.

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Storytelling Committee

About: The steering committee that helms the ambitious storytelling project comprises community organizations and allies in philanthropy. They support investment in storytelling that centers immigrant lives and stories to advance a collective and strategic narrative around immigration and shift public consciousness towards empathy and justice for all immigrants.