Local News


UNLV donations help undocumented families after Trump administration cuts funding

Posted at 7:09 AM, Jun 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-19 16:25:55-04
Some families living in Las Vegas fear being torn apart; the federal government just stopped funding a program that could've helped them stay together.
Laura Barrera is an attorney at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow. She goes to court for children who cross the border into the United States alone.
Barrera is helping about 50 kids right now stay in America legally. Her youngest client is 4 years old. Many are like Steffany. They just want to be with their parents.
"It's great to be with my family," said Steffany. Both Steffany and her mother Alejandra want to be identified by their first names.
Steffany's mom escaped the gangs and violence of El Salvador years ago. She cried so many tears when she left her daughter behind with her mom. 
Barrera helped Steffany get asylum, meaning she doesn't have to return to El Salvador.
TheTrump administration is cutting the grant that funds Barrera's job. 
"When you win a case it's so exciting like I can't even explain it," said Barrera.
The federal money may be gone, but these families just got new hope that could keep them together. UNLV just got donations to continue this program.
While that's good news for these immigrant families, it's been an emotional rollercoaster.
"Confiaba en Dios y los abogados," said Alejandra, which translates to "I had faith in God and the lawyers."
Barrera was able to represent Steffany because of the Justice AmeriCorp Grant that the Trump administration is now cutting. Several local donors have stepped up so Barrera can keep helping her clients.
This is a success story as far as Steffany and Alejandra are concerned, but the work will continue for dozens of other immigrant families.
Steffany is now 11 years old. She came to America when she was 8 years old.