This week is the National Pro Bono Celebration. Each day this week, Texas Bar Blog will feature Texas attorneys who provide pro bono services in their communities. The service of these attorneys, and the hundreds of pro bono attorneys like them in Texas, ensures access to justice for many of the most vulnerable Texans. For a list of Pro Bono Celebration events in your area, click here.
Kara Gehan has been a faithful volunteer for Catholic Charities Immigration and Legal Services (ILS) since April 2009. “I believe I have a moral obligation to contribute pro bono services to those in our society who are marginalized, but more importantly it is a privilege to be able to serve others in this way,” Ms. Gehan said about her service.
Although Kara’s legal career has been in corporate law, ILS Director Vanna Slaughter says she has been undaunted by even the most novel immigration cases ILS has assigned her. “Kara has literally taken on any and all types of cases that walk in the door.”
Earlier this year, one of those cases that walked in the door was a frantic plea from a mother trying to reconnect with her seven-year-old son after the earthquake in Haiti. After political violence against her in Haiti five years before, the mother had been granted political asylum in the US, and her son had remained in Haiti with his aunt. When the aunt died in the 2010 earthquake, the son was left to live alone on the streets, and his desperate mother sought the help of ILS to bring him to the US.
As the mother’s pro bono attorney, Ms. Gehan swept into action, contacting officials at the State Department, Homeland Security, and the American Embassy in Port au Prince. Navigating these governmental channels, Ms. Gehan successfully obtained Humanitarian Parole for her client’s son, who joyously reunited with his mother in Dallas.
“The devastation of the earthquake in Haiti was so overwhelming that I felt like any financial contribution I could make would just be a drop in the bucket.,” Ms. Gehan said. “But I knew that my legal skills could dramatically impact this family. Because of the dedication and commitment of the many individuals who support Catholic Charities and its agencies, we were able to effect a magnificent reunification of a family that will forever positively impact the lives of my client and her son.”