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AMERICAN GATEWAYS - Embracing the ideal that all people have a right to equal access to justice, American Gateways provides the legal and educational services immigrants need to navigate our immigration system, join our American family, and begin a new life free of torture and abuse. Our clients are victims of family violence, asylum seekers, and victims of human trafficking. Whether fleeing from civil war in their home county, an abusive spouse in the United States or the dehumanization of human trafficking — American Gateways is proud of our legacy of providing free or low cost direct legal representation to immigrants in Central Texas. Women, men, and families from over 75 different countries have been served by American Gateways.
Founded in 1987 as the Political Asylum Project of Austin by attorneys and community leaders, today American Gateways is among the most effective and efficient non-profit providers of immigration legal services in the nation.
We operate with two overarching goals: to guarantee access to immigration legal services to anyone in Central Texas who is too poor to afford private legal representation, and to shift public perception, and dispel myths and misconceptions about immigrants.
Imagine having the courage to leave everything you know behind, and begin an uncertain journey to the United States. The challenges are enormous. Even with little money and significant language barriers, these new immigrants to the United States hold fast to their belief that America offers the safety they seek. Their perseverance and capacity for hope is inspiring.
Knowledge is power. Through ‘Know-Your-Rights’ presentations and self-help workshops held at churches, neighborhood meetings and detention centers in Central Texas, American Gateways works to give new immigrants the tools they need to be able to navigate our immigration system and advocate for themselves and their families. When immigrants arrive in court well prepared our courts run more smoothly, and the chances that families will be reunited increases.
The immigration process is extremely complex, and striving for equal access for everybody demands a comprehensive approach. In addition to educating immigrants, American Gateways educates law enforcement, the legal community, and other advocates on how to use social and legal resources to uphold the law and make Central Texas a safe place to build a new life.
From a small group of volunteers in 1987 to an award winning non-profit organization with 13 full-time employees, 174 pro bono attorneys, legal interns from across the US, and over 150 volunteers in 2013, American Gateways has grown not only in size but in reputation. Awarded Best Legal Services in Austin in 2002 by the Austin Chronicle for providing high quality legal work to new immigrants, today American Gateways continues to expand programs that serve asylum seekers, victims of human trafficking, women being threatened with deportation by American husbands should she report his abuse, and immigrants from countries that have experienced natural disasters or turmoil.
American Gateways is proud of our work championing new immigrants. Risking everything for a better future - the courage, bravery and determination to find a new home free of persecution - is a reminder of how our own country began.