eNewsletter - March 2017

   LAF eNewsletter
March 2017   
In This Newsletter
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Heartwarming Card from a Client
In this charged political climate, it’s hard sometimes to remember the everyday impact of our work at LAF.  We can get caught up talking about the impact proposed funding cuts would have on our agency or the impact proposed policies would have on our clients.  But what LAF does every day has nothing to do with politics.  Every day we work to make a difference in peoples’ lives, one client at a time.
And often, it’s those clients who break through that fog of distractions and remind us about the core of our mission.  A few days ago, Karen Doran, a Staff Attorney in our Immigrants and Workers’ Rights Practice Group, got a card from a client that did just that.  The client had been unfairly denied unemployment benefits and was facing all sorts of financial problems.  Karen’s advocacy won her the benefits to which she was entitled.  Karen was just doing her job, but the client’s effusive gratitude is a ringing reminder of the real impact LAF’s work can have in a client’s life.  She sent the following note in a card to Karen.
The card reads: “I want to thank you and your agency for everything that you did for me.  Have no doubt that what you do is a most honorable profession. You have the ability to right wrongs, give hope to the hopeless, and through your mastery of the law you have the potential to change lives.  It is no small thing.  You are my hero and champion!  I am profoundly grateful and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
And it reminded us what we do:  right wrongs, give hope to the hopeless, and change lives.  That is the real impact of LAF.  And clients like this one remind us of it when we need it most.
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A special message
from LAF
Executive Director
Diana C. White
The federal budget proposal released this month by the President includes a complete defunding of the Legal Services Corporation.  LSC funding is 46% of LAF’s budget. The budget proposal also includes the elimination of the AmeriCorps program, and the Community Development Block Grant program that fund LAF’s work with people living in poverty in our community. These cuts would be devastating to LAF and its clients across Chicagoland.  Without LSC, there will be many more people living in poverty and denied their right to justice in the American court system.
I cannot say what LAF would look like without the funding from LSC and these other funding sources, but we will work to develop a plan if this budget is passed by Congress. Even with our other generous funders, no organization can absorb a cut of nearly half without having a smaller staff serving fewer clients. But LAF will not be shuttered by this. We are dedicated to our mission, our city, our clients, our practice, and the ideal that justice, fairness, equality, and representation should not depend on a person’s ability to pay. With your ongoing and increased financial support, LAF will remain the source of the best legal help money can’t buy.
Diana C. White
LAF Executive Director
Last Chance for Justice is Served 2017 
And Pre-Register for the Silent Auction!
Justice is Served is coming up soon! Get your tickets now and join us this Friday, March 31st, 2017 at The Tortoise Club - for an evening of premium open bar, buffet, passed hors d'oeuvres, and an impressive silent auction.  You'll be able to bid on items including international vacations, liquor packages, sports tickets, and more.  Tickets cost $150 each, and they're on sale now - available here
 And, if you've bought your tickets, and you want to speed-up the check in process on Friday, you can pre-register for the silent auction by inputting your phone number and credit card information into the secure silent auction system here.  While you're there, check out the auction preview, and get excited about Cubs tickets, commissioned artwork, goodies from Hamilton on Broadway, and more!  
Modern-Day American Worker Conference 
Immigrants and Workers' Rights Practice Group Hosts Second Annual Conference
Immigrants and Workers' Rights Practice Group Director,
Miguel Keberlein, presenting at the Conference
LAF’s Immigrants and Workers’ Rights Practice Group hosted its 2nd Annual Modern-Day American Worker Conference: Enforcing Workers’ Rights in Changing Times held at Chicago-Kent College of Law on Friday, March 24.  For the second year, the Conference was generously sponsored by the Polk Bros Foundation and hosted close to 70 participants.  A variety of attorneys and advocates discussed a wide range of topics affecting low-wage workers and immigrants in Illinois, including discrimination in temporary work agencies, the psycho-social impacts of wage theft and sexual assault, and document abuse.  With LAF attorneys as moderators, panelists throughout the day touched on some of the key legal issues impacting migrant workers’ rights in Illinois, as well as how they manifest in our modern legal system.
Read more about it on LAF's blog here.
Migrant Project Introduces New Fellowship 
In Memory of Farmworker 
Humberto Casarrubias-Sanchez
On July 19, 2011, LAF Immigrants and Workers' Rights Practice Group (IWR) Director Miguel Keberlein received a call from a farmworker in a rural area Illinois working on an agricultural worker visa from Mexico.  He and his brother Humberto travelled here from rural Mexico to detassel corn.  They left their families behind and were making $10.84 per hour for the difficult work of corn detasseling.  July 19th happened to be the hottest day on record that year with a heat index of nearly 120 degrees in the fields.   Humberto had already fainted a number of times during the day. The caller told Miguel that his brother Humberto disappeared in the field while he was detasseling and no one could find him.  Police and county officials searched but were unsuccessful.  Some even asserted that Humberto might have violated his visa and walked away from the field to go elsewhere in the U.S.  50 days later, Humberto's body was found right there in the field where he was working.  While the coroner couldn't list a cause of death due to the amount of time the body was in the fields, it is with little doubt that he died due to the extreme conditions and the lack of water or shade provided to him.  Humberto left a wife and three daughters in Mexico.
Humberto's case is a painful reminder that farm work is not only hard; it's dangerous.  Workers often leave their country and their families to help put food on our tables.  Improving their lives by providing information on their legal rights and representing them vigorously when those rights are violated is the work IWR will to continue to carry out throughout Illinois.  
At Friday's Modern-Day American Worker Conference on Friday, Miguel announced the creation of the Humberto Casarrubias-Sanchez Farmworker Advocacy Fellowship, to be awarded to a law student who is committed to working with migrant and seasonal farmworkers. We want to honor Humberto's family and his desire to make a better life for himself.  We look forward to LAF and IWR's first fellowship student in the summer of 2018.  We hope that law students committed to social justice will find a rewarding and life-changing experience working with migrant farmworkers here at LAF.    
Volunteer Gelato Social Photos 
Check out Pictures from Last Month's Party
Volunteer Services Unit Director Kate Shank, surrounded
by VISTA Volunteers at the 2017 Gelato Social
LAF's Volunteer Services Unit held its fifth annual Volunteers Appreciation Event, hosted by Kirkland & Ellis LLP, with Black Dog Gelato, to honor our active volunteers who donated their time and services to LAF in 2016. We honored many with Volunteer of the Year awards and enjoyed gelato and time together. Congratulations to all honored - check out the photos on Facebook and tag yourselves! 
Check out LAF on Social Media!
Follow us on Twitter at @ChicagoLAF, like our Facebook page, catch up with us on Instagram, and read our blog at lafchicago.wordpress.com to keep up with all our work!
Sign up for Monthly Giving!
Pledge your ongoing support to LAF and
make your recurring gift today!

For more than 50 years, LAF has provided free legal services in non-criminal matters to the poorest and most vulnerable people in our community, ensuring they have the same access to legal services as those who can afford it.  By resolving critical legal problems that systemically trap people in poverty, such as domestic violence, consumer fraud, and unfair evictions, LAF has helped hundreds of thousands of individuals get their lives back on track and given them hope for a brighter future.  
We rely on the generosity of individuals and companies to provide the private support we need to fulfill our mission.  
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