Diocese offers help for immigrants

By Tim Bullard

CONWAY — Since the Diocese of Charleston opened the Office of Immigration Services earlier this year, its coordinator and attorney, Glenda Bunce, has been on the move. She’s bringing her services to people across the state. Her latest stop was at the Pee Dee Catholic Charities Office for an Immigration Day.

The immigration office opened in January and is based in Columbia.

“The office is designed to provide low-cost, high-quality service to the immigrant population in South Carolina,” Bunce said.

She helps immigrants with the application and renewal process. Bunce tracks legislation that affects immigration and works to ensure that her clients understand the rules and regulations.

“Immigration law is very complicated and changes often,” said the lawyer.

For example, she explained that someone who is not a U.S. citizen, but is a permanent resident, can petition for their spouse and their children to come to the states. She said that each year there are a certain number of visas according to designated preference categories, some of which are for permanent residents.

The immigration service is slower since Sept. 11, she has heard. The application process takes longer than it once did.

“It seems like with the elections coming up and with both parties trying to court the Hispanic vote there are more ideas that are coming up about doing something,” she said. “Hopefully as it gets closer to the election and the campaigns get underway, there will be more discussion on what will be done for Hispanics and other immigrants.”

For more information about future Immigration Days or for assistance, contact Bunce at (803) 929-1940.