In its seventh year providing legal screenings and representation for immigrants under the Chicago Legal Protection Fund (LPF), the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) helped ensure access to legal counsel for thousands of Chicagoans seeking a broad range of immigration protections.
Since the start of LPF* in 2017, NIJC has conducted more than 9,198 legal screenings and provided representation in 4,258 cases, serving more than 7,298 Chicago residents from over 100 countries. In the first six months of 2023, NIJC provided representation in 1,906 cases under LPF.
In 2023, NIJC’s legal services for migrants newly arriving to Chicago were supported under separate city funding and are not included in this report. In the fall of 2022, LPF allowed NIJC to provide legal orientations to more than 2,500 new arrivals.
Who We’ve Reached
NIJC has provided legal counsel to Chicagoans from all 50 city wards since 2017.
Work authorization for mother of three
Maria* is a Little Village resident who has lived in the United States for 23 years and has three U.S. citizen children. Maria sought NIJC’s legal representation to apply for a U visa after one of her children was a victim of a violent crime. In 2023, NIJC helped Maria obtain a work permit through her pending U visa application. She can now provide more financial stability for her family while waiting for her visa decision. A U visa will allow her to one day apply for U.S. citizenship.
Deportation defense keeps family together
Pedro*, a Lower West Side resident and a father of two U.S. citizen children, has resided in Chicago for 40 years. He is the primary breadwinner for his two U.S. citizen children. He sought NIJC’s legal representation in 2017 when the immigration authorities initiated deportation proceedings against him. For the past five years, NIJC has been defending him against deportation in the Chicago immigration court. This year, the immigration judge granted Pedro cancellation of removal. He is now a lawful permanent resident and no longer fears family separation. In five years, he will be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.
Reuniting family who fled their homeland
Tony* is a West Ridge resident, who fled his home country of Eritrea in 2014 and received asylum in 2017. In 2018, NIJC represented Tony to become a lawful permanent resident and in his petition to be reunited with his wife and two youngest children. After nearly 10 years of separation, the family finally reunited. NIJC continues to represent Tony in his case to reunite with his three older children.
*LPF funds NIJC to provide legal services, as well as 11 Community Navigator organizations to provide Know Your Rights presentations and referrals to NIJC. This mid-year report provides an overview and impact of NIJC’s legal services to the community.
**All client names have been changed to protect their privacy.