Changing lives and transforming communities since 2005

HACES has helped over 2,500 adults and children to obtain their Legal Permanent Residency Status and 1,600 students to obtain their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status and work permits.

It has now been 17 years since the conception of HACES began as an idea in the minds of our two founding community leaders (Mario Peña and María Elena Jonas) who heeded the overwhelming pleas for help from the hundreds of immigrant families they were serving at the beginning of their mission in the early 1990’s.

With a leap of faith, they created HACES to help address the wide-ranging issues of the community regarding legal status, poverty, healthcare, and education. Consequently, the word “HACES” was adopted as the name for this community organization to imply that everyone “can do it” and “can make it”.

This is the essence of why an organization like HACES is vital to our community. The rapid growth of the immigrant population in Lake County makes it imperative to provide support to families in their transition to becoming documented and fully-participating members of their community.

“HACES” was adopted as the name for this community organization to imply that everyone “can do it” and “can make it”

Since 2005, HACES has employed 19 individuals and has brought to Lake County $1,575,685.00 in revenue. It has been recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals as a Community Based Organization and Immigration Service Provider.

Our Acheivements

Through our hard-work and dedication to our community members, HACES and its staff has received numerous recognitions and awards, which has solidified our reputation as a dependable and trustworthy source for help and advocacy for immigrant rights.


HACES was granted a distinguished certificate of appreciation from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) for valuable assistance in obtaining Latino community participation in a survey to identify transportation needs in the Waukegan area.

To increase the safety in our roads, HACES advocated for the Temporary Visitor Driver’s License (TVDL), which became available in Illinois on November 12, 2013, allowing individuals without a Social Security number to obtain a driver’s license and insurance compliance. Today, two of HACES’s former employees work in delivering these services at the IL Secretary of State, assisting applicants to obtain their Temporary Licenses.


HACES Senior staff was selected to participate in a leadership academy, a program of the Latino Policy Forum that helps merging organizations expand their capacity and leadership.


HACES was recognized with the “Outstanding Commitment to the Achievement of Citizenship Award” by the U.S. House of Representatives, presented by former Congressman Brad Schneider and received the “Community Involvement Award”, presented by the Hispanic Chamber of Lake County.


HACES was a recipient of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business scholarship that helps further the leadership and growth of the organization.

HACES’ President, CEO and founder, Maria-Elena Jonas, is a recipient of many local and national awards for her work on behalf of the immigrant community.