The City of Chicago Legal Protection Fund has ensured free legal counsel for more than 20,000 Chicagoans since it was launched in January as a joint initiative between the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), The Resurrection Project (TRP), and eight Community Navigator organizations.
In the first nine months of the Fund, 1,560 Chicagoans obtained free immigration legal screenings from the National Immigrant Justice Center, which provided representation in 766 Chicago immigration cases. The Fund also supported more than 600 Know Your Rights events, which provided immigration legal information to 20,985 Chicagoans.
The impact these legal services have had on Chicago’s communities are detailed in a new report released today by NIJC and TRP. Read and download the report at immigrantjustice.org/LPFreport.
“The success of the Fund demonstrates how great the need is, and will continue to be, under a presidential administration that has been explicit about its intent to make life difficult for immigrants,” said NIJC Executive Director Mary Meg McCarthy. “With the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and increasing deportation threats against long-time residents, it is crucial that Chicago’s immigrant residents have access to trustworthy legal advice, in their neighborhoods.”
With nearly three months still left in the Fund’s first year, participating organizations are on track to surpass the goals they set when Chicago City Council allocated $1.34 million to expand Chicagoans’ access to immigration services. The Fund covered new legal screening sites in underserved neighborhoods of the South Side and Northwest Chicago, expanded capacity to provide legal services at NIJC’s Loop office, and built a corps of dozens of community navigators who lead Know Your Rights trainings and provide support for residents applying for legal status or facing deportation.
”We are proud of the work that the community navigators have achieved; they have mobilized to stop deportations, they have educated thousands via Know Your Rights trainings, connected hundreds to legal services and accompanied immigrants through the difficult immigration process,” said TRP CEO Raul Raymundo. “The success of this program is because of the community navigators’ commitment and of our partner organizations located throughout the city.”
The new joint report by NIJC and TRP includes stories of Chicagoans who have received legal services under the Fund. One Lower West Side mother of three U.S. citizen children and survivor of domestic violence relied heavily on support from the Fund’s community navigators, who accompanied her to a Chicago Police precinct to obtain the documentation and certification she needed to support her application for a form of protection for crime victims. TRP then referred her case to NIJC, where a pro bono attorney will represent her. The Fund also has helped aldermen and Chicago Public Schools principals provide resources to their communities.
The Fund’s community navigator organizations are: Centro de Trabajadores Unidos, Centro Romero, Erie Neighborhood House, Hana Center, Indo-American Center, Instituto del Progreso Latino, National Partnership for New Americans, Southwest Organizing Project, and United African Organization.
The National Immigrant Justice Center is a nongovernmental organization dedicated to ensuring human rights protections and access to justice for all immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers through a unique combination of direct services, policy reform, impact litigation and public education. Visit immigrantjustice.org and follow @NIJC.
The Resurrection Project is a multifaceted organization that seamlessly blends community development, community organizing, human service delivery, and advocacy to build healthier and engaged communities. Since its founding in 1990 with an initial seed capital of $30,000, TRP has leveraged more than $431 million in community reinvestment through homes for ownership, rental housing, small businesses and community facilities. To date TRP has developed 733 units of affordable housing, and created over 264,000 square feet of community commercial space, creating vibrant, healthier and involved communities. For more information on TRP’s immigration services please go to www.resurrectionproject.org.