Going the Distance to Help Immigrants

Driven by her own immigration experience when she was 6 years old, Ajla Glavasevic, an associate in Jones, Gregg, Creehan & Gerace’s Sharon office, aims to “go the distance to help immigrants” when she runs in the September 11th Erie Marathon. Her goal is to raise $10,000 for a Legal Assistance Fund for Immigrants in Erie, PA, established by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Northwestern Pennsylvania. The Fund’s purpose is to connect immigrants with appropriate legal counsel and help cover the cost of services provided.

Even though Erie is the fifth largest resettlement city in the United States, it has no immigration attorneys. Nearly 20,000 immigrants now live in Erie; half of them are refugees who arrived with few or no possessions. A few of the legal issues facing immigrants are seeking legal status or a green card, violence and trafficking issues, and pursuing family reunification.

 Because Ajla’s family immigrated to the United States following the genocide, war, and dissolution of Yugoslavia in 1995, she is focused on addressing immigration issues in Erie, where she herself was once a refugee. As she describes the experience:

“I was six years old when my grief-stricken family boarded an airplane with one suitcase only to travel thousands of miles from war-torn Sarajevo, Bosnia into what was deemed the land of the free, the land of opportunity. By the time we reached our government-issued apartment on Thirteenth Street in the “not so nice” part of downtown Erie, Pennsylvania, we had spent three years listening to bombs, grenades, sirens, and gunshots, had rationed food to make sure we had enough to eat, but mostly, we lived in fear…”

While her parents sought work and saved money to send back home, Ajla and her sister dressed in thrift shop clothes and hand-me-downs, learned English, and attended summer school to catch up on their studies.

Tax-deductible donations to help Ajla provide affordable legal counsel to immigrants will be accepted until September 11, the day of the Erie Marathon. Please visit https://www.crowdrise.com/initiative-for-immigration/fundraiser/ajlaglavasevic to make a donation.

Ms. Glavasevic practices immigration, domestic relations, criminal, and employment law as an associate in our Sharon office. If you have a question about immigration law or the Erie Marathon fundraiser for immigrants, call or email her at our Sharon office:  (724) 981-8000 or akg@jgcg.com.