Ayuda news

Ayuda Impact

Who We Help

  • 6,500 Immigrant women, children and men annually
  • 104 countries of origin across the continents
  • 22 languages
  • 100% low-Income
  • Residents of the DC-metro region (DC-MD-VA)
  • All immigrants regardless of country of origin, race/ethnicity, sex and sexual orientation, gender, age, and/or cultural, political, or religious backgrounds

How We Help

  • 45 years of service
  • 95% of cases successfully resolved
  • Directly assists 2,700 clients annually
  • Culturally and linguistically appropriate services
  • Holistic legal, social, and language access services
  • Ayuda legal representation and pro bono work
  • Community outreach and education

 Ayuda Community

  • 13 Board of Directors members
  • 18 Ayuda Advisory Council members
  • 100 legal, civil, community, and student volunteers
  • 40,000 hours volunteered
  • 30 community partners
    • 40 law firms and corporations
    • 15 foundations
  • $5.3 million in grants, donation, and in-kind gifts from the public and private sectors

 Immigration Legal Program

  • 2,945 matters resolved
  • 2,070 clients served
  • 973 legal consultations provided
  • 158 Special Immigrant Juvenile Status cases for abandoned, abuses, or neglected children won
  • 30 visas for survivors of human trafficking secured
  • 250 work authorization application approvals obtained
  • 58 DACA applications processed
  • 57 TPS re-registrations processed

Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault and Family Law Program

  • 52 temporary and civil protective orders for clients secured
  • 47 children assisted in custody matters

Social Services Program

  • Provided comprehensive case management and therapy to:
    • 149 survivors of domestic violence
    • 16 unaccompanied children
    • 73 human trafficking survivors

Language Access Program

  • 1,619 in person translation facilitated
  • 4,792 telephonic interpretations provided
  • 457 document translations completed
  • Trained 54 interpreters
  • 70 nonprofit partnerships

Pro Bono Program

  • 12 legal clinics conducted
  • 7 Know Your Rights Presentations coordinated
  • 2 Family Preparedness Clinics organized
  • 15 law firms providing pro bono attorneys

Project END Program

  • 37 victims of immigration services fraud counseled
  • 11 outreach efforts conducted and 256 immigrant consumers reached
  • 7 trainings to immigration advocates organized
  • 3 commercial length videos produced with the Hispanic Bar Association

Volunteer and Outreach Program

  • 4,125 hours of donated time from 50 general community volunteers
  • 30,000 hours from immigration, DV/family law, social services, language access, development, and administrative interns
  • 10 outreach events and presentations, more than 300 community members reached


Ayuda's Impact Report Graphics




Full Length Project END Videos

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Short Video Clips Project END


Press Release


English Press Release HBA-DC and Ayuda Videos_12.18.17


Spanish_Press Release_HBA-DC and Ayuda Videos_12.18.17

 Ayuda Attorney Rebecca Walters Stops Helen’s Deportation

“Helen Pacheco, a former client of mine, recently wrote to you about her journey with Ayuda. I am honored that she refers to me as her “angel” and that we still share a special connection after all of these years. In truth, you surely would also have rushed to her side to offer help had you heard her story of courage, strength, and compassion firsthand.

It was my privilege, and Ayuda’s, to have been in the right place at the right time for Helen and her family, in order to provide them with the knowledge and support they needed to access the legal remedies that were available to them through our justice system.

I met Helen at her lowest point. She had just buried her husband. She and her two teenagers wore electronic ankle monitors, allowing ICE to monitor their movements at all times, including when the children were attending church or school. Her youngest child Christopher, a U.S. citizen toddler, was severely ill, due to complications resulting from his premature birth. Worst of all, in her hands was a final warning letter from ICE demanding that she and her children prepare for their imminent deportation to Honduras.

Helen’s already grim life could have gotten ten-times more unbearable if it weren’t for Ayuda.

Christopher was born twenty-one weeks premature after Helen suffered a violent assault during her pregnancy. He survived against all odds. Although at the time I first met Helen, he was still receiving frequent life-sustaining medical treatments from six different specialists. Despite being so young, a U.S. citizen, and a medical “miracle” according to his doctors, Christopher was about to be sent to Honduras along with Helen and his siblings, as he had no other parent or caregiver in the United States. Relocation to Honduras would have been a death sentence for Christopher given his medical needs, and the whole family feared violence from the notorious street gangs that had gained significant power there.

We had to work quickly as the family was on the verge of being deported. When I heard Helen’s story and learned that she was a domestic violence survivor, I assisted her in filing a U visa application, a legal remedy for victims of crime who cooperate with law enforcement. We filed an emergency stay of removal to stop the deportations, buying us some time while the visa application was pending. Eventually Helen’s U visa was approved, meaning that the whole family could stay, and providing Helen and her older children with a path to legal permanent residency.

Sometimes, I think about what could have happened if Helen had not walked into my office that day seven years ago, and if Ayuda had not had the availability and resources to take her case. I cannot help but think of the countless other families, just like Helen’s, who call our office, but who we do not currently have the capacity to serve due to resource constraints.

Helen has glowing praise for Ayuda. What’s more remarkable is Helen herself. She is a true force of nature. She is strong, determined, and one of the most spirited individuals I have ever met. Today, Helen is thriving as a fitness coach. She is encouraging others to practice healthy living, follow a healthy diet, and to exercise. She motivates many to live their best lives and it has been amazing to watch her helping and inspiring others. I have worked with Helen and her kids for a long time and it has been an inspiration and a privilege to be a part of their journey.

At Ayuda, we are currently able to waive our nominal consultation fee for survivors of domestic violence like Helen. Our donor contributions are what allows Ayuda to offer this lifeline to immigrants living under the gravest of circumstances and to represent other vulnerable families in their time of need. Their resilience, our specialized knowledge and experience, plus your support, is how we move mountains. This is how the justice of the American dream is realized; how cycles of violence and exploitation are broken, and how individual lives are rebuilt and transformed.”

-Rebecca Walters, Ayuda Supervising Attorney



 Verizon Provides $50,000 to Kick Off Ayuda’s

45th Anniversary Celebration

Verizon General Counsel Craig Silliman to Accept Ayuda’s Hall of Fame Award in Recognition of the Company’s Long-Time Pro Bono Work and Support for Immigrants


Washington, D.C.

October 30, 2017

We are pleased to announce that Verizon is the presenting sponsor of Ayuda’s 45th anniversary celebration, taking place in May 2018 at the National Association of Home Builders in Washington, D.C. The event will celebrate immigrants’ lives and will call upon the broader community to stand with immigrants.

Verizon’s preeminent pro bono program is a cornerstone of Ayuda’s legal immigration services, helping in particular immigrant survivors of domestic violence. Ayuda is pleased to induct Verizon to its Hall of Fame in recognition of the countless hours of pro bono legal support that Verizon attorneys have provided for immigrants through our partnership.

“Verizon’s generosity with pro bono assistance has enabled Ayuda to be a lifeline for many low-income immigrants in Virginia who want to access justice, stop abuse and trauma, reunite with their families, and rebuild their lives. We are so delighted to be honoring Verizon for their phenomenal work in standing with immigrants,” says Paula Fitzerald, executive director.

Craig Silliman, Verizon executive vice president, public policy and general counsel, will accept the award on behalf of the company.

“Ayuda is an exceptional organization that provides vital services to our community,” said Silliman. “We have been privileged to work with Ayuda on innovative new clinics to serve immigrant survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking, and to find new ways to help immigrants address their legal challenges. We are proud to support Ayuda and we are certain the anniversary celebration will be extraordinary.”

With its $50,000 presenting sponsorship of Ayuda’s 45th anniversary celebration, Verizon has kicked off Ayuda’s event sponsorship campaign. The campaign seeks to raise a record $300,000 to help low-income immigrants residing in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. Proceeds will support Ayuda’s work in providing legal, social, and language access services. For more information on sponsorship opportunities, please contact Ayuda’s Giving Office at 202-552-3605.

About Verizon

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq:VZ), headquartered in New York City, has a diverse workforce of 163,400 and generated nearly $126 billion in 2016 revenues. Verizon operates America’s most reliable wireless network and the nation’s premier all-fiber network, and delivers integrated solutions to businesses worldwide. Its Oath subsidiary houses more than 50 media and technology brands that engage about 1 billion people around the world.

About Ayuda

Ayuda is a 501(c)(3) legal, social, and language access provider that helps vulnerable low-income immigrants in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia stop abuses and improve their lives. With 44 years of experience and a highly motivated and skilled team, Ayuda secures justice and vital resources for immigrant individuals and families. As a national leader, Ayuda shares innovations that increase the capacity of providers and systems throughout the United States. Ayuda regularly fields inquiries from attorneys, advocates, and officials residing around the world who want to learn more about our relentless, dignified approach that helps immigrants save and rebuild their lives.



Ayuda ha recibido muchas preguntas con respeto a la terminación de Acción Diferida para lxs Llegados en la Infancia (DACA en inglés) por parte del Presidente Trump el 5 de septiembre, 2017. Estamos trabajando para apoyar los esfuerzos de aquellxs jóvenes inmigrantes que calificaron para el ahora descontinuado DACA. Es crucial que lxs inmigrantes que calificaron para DACA reciban una revisión de su elegibilidad para formas adicionales de alivio legal por un abogado o Representante Acreditado.

Ayuda preparó las publicaciones de abajo con información fundamental sobre DACA. Por favor, comparta este recurso son sus redes.


Ayuda has received many questions about the President Trump’s termination of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) on September 5, 2017. We are working to support the efforts of young immigrants who qualified for the now discontinued DACA program. It is crucial that immigrants who qualified for DACA get a screening for additional forms of relief through a reputable attorney or accredited representative.

Ayuda prepared the publications below with key information about DACA. Please share this resource with your networks.

September 5, 2017

Dear Ayuda supporter:

The Trump Administration announced at 11:00 am this morning its decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program. A centerpiece of U.S. immigration policy under President Barack Obama, who started the program by Executive Order seven years ago, DACA permitted young immigrant “Dreamers” to stay in the United States to go to school and work without fear of deportation.

As of today, the Department of Homeland Security will no longer accept new DACA applications. Only those individuals with less than six months of status remaining will be permitted to continue to renew their work permits until October 5, 2017.

In the Washington, D.C. region, more than 40,000 Dreamers will be affected. For the majority of these Dreamers, the United States is the only home they’ve known.

We believe a policy decision to threaten Dreamers with deportation and prevent them from obtaining legal employment in the United States harms children and families, undermines our shared values as a nation, and threatens the strength of our communities and economy.

Immigrants turn to Ayuda in their greatest hour of need. In this uncertain time, you will find us where we must be: in trusted consultation with the immigrants whose lives are at stake, providing honest guidance, fearless representation, and holistic support. Our team of attorneys, social workers, language access program partners, and volunteers stand ready. We are under no illusion about the magnitude of the challenge facing young immigrants nor the potential threat it poses to their safety, stability, and livelihoods. It will take the entire Ayuda community coming together to ensure that immigrants do not walk this path alone.

As a member of the Ayuda community, you are, and will continue to be, a source of strength for Ayuda and for the immigrant families we serve.

Thank you.


Paula Fitzgerald

Executive Director

**English version of press release included below the Spanish version**



Fecha: Julio 19, 2017
Jennifer Ristau | (202) 552-3619 | |Anne Schaufele | (202) 552-3604  | |

Conozca a la Culebra Canalla, la nueva cara de la campaña para la prevención del fraude de Ayuda, una organización sin fines de lucro que sirve a inmigrantes de bajo recursos con servicios sociales y legales en el área del DMV.

Ayuda ha creado a la Culebra Canalla para ayudar a consumidores a conocer las señales de advertencia antes de ser mordidos por costosas tarifas que quizás no puedan recuperar, o peor, enfrentar la deportación debido a un caso mal preparado.

Como miembros de medios de comunicación, puede utilizar estos “memes” cuando reporten acerca de estafas de este tipo o a través de las redes sociales.

Un ejemplo de estafa de servicios migratorios está dirigido a inmigrantes hispanohablantes a través de esquemas en los que los estafadores usan el término conocido como “notario”, término español utilizado en muchos países para referirse a un abogado, para engañar a consumidores a pensar que esta persona está autorizada en los Estados Unidos a proveer consejos y servicios legales.

Otras estafas comunes que afectan a los inmigrantes de todas nacionalidades e idiomas incluyen imitadores de empleados del gobierno federal o de inmigración, tanto como individuos quienes pretenden ser abogados licenciados o los llamados “consultores de inmigración.” Los estafadores eligen como blancos a los inmigrantes para explotar sus deseos de ajustar su estatus.

Anne Schaufele, Coordinadora del Proyecto END (Eliminando Notarios Deshonestos) de Ayuda explica, “Hemos identificado más que setenta y cinco negocios en el área metropolitana de Washington, DC que proveen servicios legales de inmigración sin tener la licencia y capacitación necesaria, y nos preocupan los negocios con malas intenciones. Los resultados han sido desastrosos y han incluido en un caso, la separación de un padre de su conyugue y sus tres hijos, ciudadanos americanos, y la pérdida de más que $50,000 en otro. La prevención y la aplicación de las leyes es clave.”

¡Por favor, ayúdenos a difundir los “memes”, disponibles en inglés y en español, con las seis señales de advertencia antes de que el próximo estafador(a) muerda!

Revise y comparta los seis memes en nuestro sitio de Facebook:

Vea el texto de los seis “memes” aquí:

1. SIEMPRE asegúrese de que la persona que usted contrató tiene licencia para ejerces leyes en los E.E. U.U.
NUNCA contrate a un “notario público” para ayudarle en su caso de inmigración. Un notario público no es un abogado en los E.E. U.U.

2. SIEMPRE tenga cuidado con cualquiera que le pida que pague antes que haya una manera de aplicar
NUNCA pague a alguien que no le dé un recibo

3. SIEMPRE asegúrese de entender lo que se debe hacer en su caso, y por qué, antes de continuar
NUNCA firme nada que usted no entienda, o que esté en blanco

4. SIEMPRE asegúrese de recibir una copia de todas las aplicaciones en su caso
NUNCA deje sus documentos originales

5. SIEMPRE busque ayuda si su representante amenaza con hacerle daño a usted o a su caso de inmigración.
NUNCA confíe en un representante que le diga que tiene una conexión especial en el gobierno, porque el gobierno NO acepta sobornos ni hace favores.

6. SIEMPRE obtenga una segunda opinión si tiene dudas acerca del aviso que ha recibido
NUNCA confíe en alguien que le “garantiza” ganar su caso

Si encuentra representantes legales fraudulentos o impostores del gobierno, informe al Proyecto END de Ayuda al (202) 552-3615. Esta información le fue traída por el Proyecto END de Ayuda.

Más acerca de Ayuda
Fundada en 1973, Ayuda ofrece servicios holísticos legales, sociales e interpretación a inmigrantes de bajos recursos en el área metropolitana de Washington.
Los programas de Ayuda incluyen servicios legales y sociales en las siguientes áreas: inmigración, lucha contra la trata, violencia doméstica, asalto sexual, y abogacía para niños inmigrantes; servicios de acceso de idioma para proteger a clientes de aislamiento del lenguaje; y el Proyecto END (Eliminando Notarios Deshonestos) para ayudar a inmigrantes víctimas de estafas de inmigración.



Date: July 19, 2017
Jennifer Ristau | (202) 552-3619 | |
Anne Schaufele | (202) 552-3604  | |

Meet Sneaky Snake, the new face of a fraud prevention campaign, brought to you by Ayuda, a non-profit legal and social services organization serving low-income immigrants in the DMV area.
Ayuda has created this Sneaky Snake character to help consumers know the warning signs before they get bitten by costly fees they may not be able to recuperate, or worse, face deportation due to an ill-prepared case.

As members of the media, you are welcome to use these memes when reporting on related scams or via social media.

One example of immigration services fraud targets Spanish-speaking immigrants in schemes where fraudsters use the false cognate, “notario”, a Spanish term for an attorney in many countries, to mislead consumers into thinking that they are authorized to provide legal advice and services in the United States.

Other common scams affecting immigrants of all nationalities and languages include impersonators of federal government or immigration employees, as well as individuals who pretend to be licensed attorneys or so called “immigration consultants.” Fraudsters target immigrants to exploit their desire to adjust their status.

Anne Schaufele, Ayuda’s Project END Coordinator, explains, “We have identified over seventy-five businesses in the DC metropolitan area that provide immigration legal services without the proper law license or training, and we are concerned about those businesses with ill-intent. The results have been disastrous, and have included the separation of a father from his spouse and three, U.S. citizen children in one case, and the loss of over $50,000 in another. Prevention and enforcement is key.”
Please help us spread the memes, available in English and Spanish, with the six warning signs before the next fraudster bites!

Check out and share the six memes on our Facebook page:

See the text from the six memes here:
1. ALWAYS make sure that the person you hired is licensed to practice law in the U.S.
NEVER hire a “notary public” to help you with your immigration case. A notary public is not an attorney in the United States

2. ALWAYS beware of anyone who asks you to pay before there is a way to apply
NEVER pay someone who will not give you a receipt

3. ALWAYS make sure you understand what must be done in your case, and why, before you proceed
NEVER sign anything that you don’t understand, or that’s left blank

4. ALWAYS get a copy of all applications in your case
NEVER leave behind your original documents

5. ALWAYS look for help if your representative threatens to harm you or your immigration case   NEVER trust a representative who says they have a special connection in the government, because the government does NOT accept bribes or do favors

6. ALWAYS get a second opinion if you’re not sure about the advice you’ve been given
NEVER trust anyone who says that they can “guarantee” to win your case

If you encounter fraudulent legal representatives or government imposters, report them to Ayuda at (202) 552-3615. This information was brought to you by Ayuda’s Project END.

About Ayuda
Founded in 1973, Ayuda offers holistic legal, social, and interpretation services to low-income immigrants in the Washington metropolitan region.
Ayuda’s programs include legal and social services in the areas of immigration, anti-trafficking, domestic violence, sexual assault, and advocacy for immigrant children; language access services to free clients from language isolation; and Project END (Eradicating Notario Deceit) to assist immigrant victims of notario/legal services fraud.

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