Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) is pleased to announce a new partnership with the City of Chicago to expand access to legal counsel for immigrants in Chicago.
“Legal services are more critical than ever as President-elect Donald Trump has threatened to increase immigration apprehensions and deportations, and terminate President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program,” said NIJC Executive Director Mary Meg McCarthy. “We are grateful to Mayor Rahm Emanuel for his commitment to ensure that Chicago residents have access to trustworthy information about their immigration rights and opportunities.”
The Legal Protection Fund will allow NIJC to expand partnerships with community-based organizations in under-served Chicago neighborhoods to conduct Know Your Rights presentations and legal screenings, and provide legal representation to immigrants. NIJC will build on partnerships with community- and faith-based organizations, mental health providers, and the business and legal sectors to respond to concerns that are weighing heavily on immigrants who have been the targets of deportation threats. The program will also increase local capacity to respond to enforcement operations that may lead to fast-tracked deportations and permanent family separation. Approximately 150,000 undocumented immigrants live in the Chicago area.
For undocumented immigrants who are concerned about their future in the United States, consultations with attorneys can be life-changing. Since 2012, NIJC has provided legal counsel to thousands of undocumented immigrants seeking temporary protection from deportation under DACA. Many of these individuals had never spoken to an attorney, but nearly 15 percent learned, after doing so, that they were potentially eligible for more permanent forms of relief.