Community Connection

A quarterly publication of The MICA Project
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In This Issue:

A Note from a Co-Director...Hope.

The MICA Project is at an exciting time of growth!  We are participating in many community presentations, partnering with other organizations, and seeing our caseloads grow every day.  It is truly inspiring to see clients find hope and possibility in legal representation. We are working with many young people to apply for work authorization under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. We have seen how this prospect can totally alter the dreams and aspirations of a teenager who previously felt hopeless. We also have several clients who have experienced domestic violence and who with our help are able to navigate legal protections created for their benefit. Doing so allows them to look toward a brighter future.

In addition, Congress is now considering an Immigration Reform bill that would provide many of our clients with new legal options and a renewed sense of hope.  We are beginning to plan for the implementation of possible reform, which will be a major organizational undertaking. Your support makes this work possible. Consider donating at We can’t express enough gratitude for our generous supporters!           
-Nicole T.S. Cortes

Navigating Immigration Court
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Please VOTE daily to help us win a $20,000 grant!

The MICA Project is one of 74 organizations being considered for a $20,000 grant from Monsanto to fund our operations. For us to win, we need to get the most likes on Facebook among the organizations eligible.  This is where we need your help.  Please go to the Facebook page for Grow St. Louis at, like the page, and vote for the MICA Project.  That’s all it takes. You can vote every day from today until the end of the voting period on May 19.  We need every vote we can get, so please vote often!

My Immigration Story

Former Board member Marta Torres tells her story

The idea of immigrating to the U.S. had never crossed my mind until my boyfriend who was living in California (he was Mexican, but U.S. born) asked me to marry him. But even then, I didn’t have any idea what I was going to experience. After we got married, I moved to Los Angeles with a temporary visa, then as soon as we had money, I had to apply for a Resident Card (or Green Card).  I remember that for us it was expensive, almost $500, just to send the application to the INS, plus all the expenses of travel from L.A. to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and from there to El Paso, Texas. That was what we were required to do for me to get my Resident Card.

Another aspect that I never considered about immigration was the cultural difference and the immersion experience I would face.  As a young adult I had lived always in my home town.  I had always lived around my family, with my parents.  I found so many cultural differences, but the most difficult thing to face was the fact that now I was going to live without my closest family, my friends; from language to new places, everything was new and different.  In my little community everyone knew me; I was equal to everyone.  I had a degree as a teacher, but in this new country I was nobody. My education didn’t count in the same way, and for the first time in my life I saw what discrimination was.  People would see the color of my skin and assume they knew what I was just based on my appearance or accent.

I have been marred now for almost 21 years, and I have been a citizen since September 2008. I made the decision to start my citizenship process because as a Permanent Resident I had to renew my permit every 4 years and it became very expensive, around $1,600.  In these 21 years I have learned to love my kids’ country.  My husband and I have worked so hard to give our kids a great education and a better life. One of my personal goals since we moved to St Louis has been to continue my education.  In March, I was finally accepted at St Louis University to do my master’s degree in Spanish.  This is part of my American dream: one day I will have a Spanish, and I will be teaching in the best University in the city.   

Flavors of Home: Marta’s Hot Creamy Salsa

12 Serrano peppers (or jalapeños)*
1 egg
1 garlic clove
½ medium onion
One hand full of cilantro
¼ cup of Olive oil
Salt to taste

How do you do it?
Get your blender clean and dry. Wash the peppers and the cilantro; dry them with a paper towel (they need to be really dry). Get everything except the oil in the blender. Start your blender on a low speed.  Remove the knob from the center of the lid (or carefully open the lid a little) and start pouring the olive oil, little by little in a small stream, until you get a creamy consistency. Turn the blender off.

This hot sauce is good with white rice and any meat you want.
*Serrano peppers are usually spicier than jalapeños.

Community Voices

One of the MICA Project’s core principles is to operate as a grassroots community organization.  Our Community Advisory Panel helps us do just that.  The panel is made up of members of
immigrant communities from across our service area in St. Louis, southern Illinois, and southern Missouri.  Members participate in a bimonthly conference call in which they share advice, opinions, and feedback with MICA Project staff.

During our first meeting, in Jan. 2013, the Panel shared the general needs of their communities.  Through this discussion, the MICA Project has highlighted domestic violence as one of the areas in which to focus our educational presentations. 

Our second meeting focused on the possibility of Comprehensive Immigration Reform.  If a bill
passes through Congress, people will need accessible and accurate information.  The Panel 
discussed the best ways to reach people who might be eligible for legal status.  We also talked about ways to educate people about notario fraud, a serious problem in which unlicensed
individuals provide fraudulent or inaccurate legal assistance. 

The Community Advisory Panel plays a crucial role in focusing the MICA Project’s work in immigrant communities.  If you or someone you know would like to participate, have them contact us at


Honors and Awards
The MICA Project has recently been recognized for the following honors and awards:

  • MICA Project was nominated for an Adelante Award from the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • Co-Directors Nicole Cortés and Jessica Mayo received the Gerry and Bob Virgil Ethic of Service Award for their efforts in founding the MICA Project
Do you know someone else who'd like to learn about MICA Project? 


Whatever your contribution, the MICA Project will use it to promote the core ideals of family, freedom, and a brighter future.  Please contact the MICA Project staff at (314) 995-6995 if you are interested in making an ongoing monthly contribution or if you have any questions.  Thank you for being part of our Community of Support!
Make checks payable to MICA Project, or donate online at


Donations made at a specific sponsorship level are considered a gift to the MICA Project’s entire mission.  We do not use our limited staff resources to assign donations to specific cases.  We use your gift where it can make the biggest difference.  We will share with you our success stories as often as permitted given our commitment to client confidentiality.  The MICA Project is a 501(c)(3) organization, and your donation is tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

Board of Directors

Kim Westerman
Vice President
Chris Bloom
Katie Herbert Meyer
Javier De Trinidad
At Large Members
Miguel Keberlein
Allison Loecke

Our Mission

The MICA Project is a community organization committed to working with low-income immigrants to overcome barriers to justice.  The MICA Project utilizes legal services, organizing, advocacy, and education to promote the voice and dignity of immigrant communities.

Our Staff

Nicole Cortes
Jessica Mayo

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