August Compassion Offering
Community Immigration Law Center (CILC)
Saludos members of Orchard Ridge,
I am Aissa Olivarez, the Managing Attorney at the Community Immigration Law Center (or CILC) coming to you from our offices at Christ Presbyterian Church. I want to start by thanking you for choosing us for your compassion offering in August 2022. Partners like you are the reason we are able to keep our services completely pro bono for our immigrant community seeking legal advice and legal services. We serve individuals from over 161 different countries through both our virtual Friday legal clinic and direct legal representation. We have some exciting updates to share with you.
We are now a staff of 2.5 attorneys and one paralegal: We most recently hired a paralegal, Diana Benitez, who will help us increase our capacity to continue to meet the need we see in our local community. We also hired Natalia Lucak, who is seasoned in serving asylum seekers, to start a brand new program: the pro se clinic, an offering that will provide the asylum seeker community the opportunity to get know your rights information, screening, and assistance with filling out relevant applications.
The reason we have identified the clinic as the best next step in our community is because of the growing level of asylum seekers seeking refuge in our community. Since Jan 1 we have received over 95 referrals from the Immigrant affairs office of Dane County to provide asylum orientations to individuals at risk of deportation and needing to report to ICE in Milwaukee.
Our asylum orientations ensure that individuals have access to the information needed to navigate the system. Our new pro se clinic will take it a step further and help to prepare actual applications for asylum seekers so that they can continue down the road of pursuing their fear based claim.
There are many barriers to the process of seeking asylum in the United States:
1) all correspondence between the respondent and the government is in English (including hearing notices);
2) the asylum application is only in English and must be filled out in English;
3) there are multiple legal standards applied when a decision on granting asylum is made, including arguing whether there is a nexus between the harm you suffered and a protected ground under the law.
I could go on and on about the barrier, but the benefit of a pro se clinic will be that people are able to gain knowledge about the process in their native language, receive assistance filling out required forms, and receive support navigating the immigration court system. Funds collected by your organization will go toward
supporting the pro se clinic which will be launched on September 2, 2022.
Thank you again for choosing CILC as your partner and supporting access to justice for the local immigrant community. We ask for your continued prayers as we remain on the frontlines of immigrant justice.
Thank you in advance for your contribution.
You can make a donation by check, on the memo line, please write “compassion” and mail to ORUCC, 1501 Gilbert Road, Madison, WI 53711, or donate online at orucc.org. Click the brown button “Contribute” in the upper right of the home page.