Through the Legal Resources Project for Immigrant Service Providers, the Asylum & Immigration Law Clinic assists Chicago area immigrant-serving CBOs to meet their legal assistance needs, develop resources to improve staff skill and knowledge, and increase their independent legal service capacity. As a result, lowincome immigrants and refugees are ensured access to high-quality legal representation free of charge or at a minimal cost. Through this clinic project, legal resources, legal advice, information dissemination and professional development are provided through a coordinated network of CBO partners. The clinic dovetails its knowledge, skills and resources with those of the CBOs and creates linkages among them to facilitate further information exchange and collaboration.
As part of the College of Law, the clinic is uniquely positioned to investigate complex legal issues, respond to law reform concerns and enhance legal representation. The clinic delivers services tailored to agencies’ individual and collective needs including:
- Regular, systematic telephone counseling and advice
- Legal research in complex cases
- Factual investigation to resolve legal issues
- Regular training of partner agencies accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals on immigration issues and legal skills
- Consultation on cases where clients are seeking immigration remedies
- Representation in a limited number of referred cases
- Development and dissemination of educational materials in collaboration with community partners at community sites
- Community presentations with agency partners
- Consultation on case management and administration
- CBO staff mentoring and consulting
The goals of the Legal Resources Project are grounded in the present-day realities of immigration law and law enforcement. The existing immigration system focuses on enforcement over evaluation and adjudication of benefits, and it imposes significant penalties on individuals with even minor legal infractions. As such, the current system creates significant obstacles and risks for immigrants and refugees seeking a path toward citizenship. The potentially drastic consequences for immigrants and refugees who make a mistake in the application process highlights the need for immigrants and refugees of limited means to access reliable information and quality representation in order to ensure family reunification and protection from harm.
Through the Legal Resources Project, the clinic assists neighborhood organizations that work with immigrants and refugees, while giving DePaul law students practical experience as they fulfill the university’s Vincentian Mission of serving the underprivileged in our communities.