Celebrating 40 Years of the Legal Services Corporation


Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA)’s federal funders, the Legal Services Corporation, recently kicked off their 40th anniversary celebration by bringing together leaders from across the legal profession, private sector, and government in a three-day event to work toward fulfilling America’s promise of equal justice under the law. If you weren’t able to attend the event, we’ve compiled some of the best tweets to help you check out what you missed.

Check out the entire storify by clicking here.

Success Story: Rebuilding Her Life


Yesica knew she was in a bad relationship. Her boyfriend had isolated her from nearly everyone she cared about and often threatened her, her family, and her friends. The violence was escalating and, one night, he sexually assaulted her. It was then that she knew she had to leave for good.

During their last violent encounter, as she tried to escape her boyfriend’s drunken rage, the police were called. Her boyfriend was arrested and Yesica and her daughter were taken to a local shelter. The following week, Yesica obtained a lifetime protective order from the County Attorney’s office.

While she stayed at the shelter, advocates put her in touch with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) for help with her legal issues. TRLA helped Yesica obtain a U-VISA for herself and a daughter that was still living in Mexico. Throughout this time she continued to take advantage of the resources available at the shelter and even obtained a license to provide child care. She applied for a job with a local daycare center and was proud that she was rebuilding her life.

But Yesica was unaware that Child Protective Services had placed her on their child abuse registry due to the events surrounding her boyfriend’s arrest. This meant that she would not be able to get a job with a daycare provider. Yesica found out that she had time to appeal the issue and clear her name so she once again turned to TRLA for help.

TRLA worked with Yesica to prepare for the appeal hearing and arranged for witness testimony that would speak to the difficulties that victims of domestic violence have in leaving their abusers. TRLA attorneys prepared to show that Yesica was doing everything she could to protect her family and build a stable life. And when TRLA advocates spoke with representatives from CPS about Yesica’s situation, CPS agreed to dismiss the case and remove Yesica from the child abuse registry before the hearing had a chance to start.

Today Yesica and her two daughters continue to live and thrive in central Texas. Yesica hopes to one day open her own daycare facility.

Yesica (right) thanks one of the TRLA attorneys who has helped her rebuild her life.

Announcing the Pro Bono Immigration Referral Network


test2The sudden influx of unaccompanied minors from Central America has created a need for dedicated volunteers who can help with their immigration cases, including actions filed in state court. In response to inquiries from private attorneys looking for information on how they can help, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) has developed a Pro Bono Immigration Referral Network to connect attorneys with volunteer opportunities.

TRLA primarily assists with T (Trafficking) and U (Victims of Crimes) Visas and we are always looking for resources for those cases. If your practice involves other forms of relief, please consider signing up and we will forward your information to the appropriate immigration legal services provider. Continue reading

Attorneys Recognized for Pro Bono Commitment to Victims of Violence


TRLA’s Stella Hernandez (right) and Danielle Gonzalez present awards to this year’s honorees.

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) has honored twelve Texas attorneys for their commitment to providing free legal services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

The attorneys were  recognized at TRLA’s 14th Annual Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Cross-Training Conference in San Antonio, The three-day conference brings together legal aid attorneys and staff from Texas domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centers to collaborate on best practices to help victims of violence. The attorneys received their awards at the conference’s closing luncheon on August 7th. Continue reading

Advocates Come Together for 14th Annual Shelter Conference


Domestic violence survivor Yesica (right) thanks TRLA attorney Maricarmen Garza for helping her leave her abuser.

Last week week legal aid attorneys joined with advocates from Texas domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centers for the 14th Annual Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Cross-Training Conference in San Antonio.

The advocates were welcomed to San Antonio by TRLA Executive Director David Hall and conference director Maricarmen Garza. Throughout the conference advocates heard presentations from state experts on issues including legislative advocacy, public housing, international child abduction, consumer advocacy, child support, and working with Child Protective Services. Continue reading

Success Story: An Adoption that Never Happened


Donald was homeless, disabled, and trying to get an apartment through housing assistance. In order to apply for this program, he needed to show proof of his identity. But Donald was facing a problem. He had been in the foster care system until he was about six years old and placed with his aunt and uncle. Donald thought that his aunt and uncle had legally adopted him but all of his legal documents listed his last name at birth, not the last name he had been going by since his adoption. Without the right documents with the right name, Donald couldn’t apply for assistance.

Not knowing what to do, Donald turned to Texas RioGrande Legal Aid for help. Continue reading