As the number of recent migrant arrivals continues to grow at the start of 2024, there is much our legal community can and is doing to help the new arrivals understand their legal options and, for those who qualify, help them apply for temporary protective status and work authorizations.
As our legal community comes together to help the recent migrants who are here, we also need to advocate for responsible solutions to the border crisis that is driving the many challenges that Chicago and other jurisdictions throughout the country are currently experiencing.
More on how you can get involved on both critical fronts follows below.
Pro Bono Opportunities
The CBF continues to help coordinate pro bono attorney involvement in large-scale workshops assisting newly arrived migrants in Chicago to obtain Employment Authorization and Temporary Protected Status. This effort is being led by agencies within the state, city, and federal government, along with many legal aid and nonprofit partners.
Attorneys and other legal professionals do not need to have immigration experience or speak Spanish to participate in the workshops, though having one or both of those attributes is especially helpful. Below are the workshop details as of January 2024:
- The workshops will run every week Tuesday-Friday through the end of April, at a federal building downtown.
- There are two shift times volunteers can sign up for 8:30 AM-1:00 PM and 12:30 PM-5:00 PM.
- The attorney or support staff role will vary depending on their immigration law experience and Spanish-speaking skills
- Anyone who would like to volunteer can sign up here. When you enter the home page, select one of the “Pro Bono Attorney & Support Staff” options (either “Bilingual English/Spanish” or “Non-Spanish Speaking”). You will receive an automatic reply once you have registered.
- The host legal aid agency is The Resurrection Project. They will enter into a Limited Scope Agreement with each applicant and provide malpractice insurance.
- There is a recorded training available here. This is the only training that needs to be viewed and should be watched before attending a workshop. Attorneys will receive sample documents along with the link when they sign up. (NOTE: The training should be viewed even by those who previously volunteered for a workshop in 2023.)
- Virtual office hours assistance will occur on Mondays at 2:00 PM for new volunteers and prior volunteers who have questions or want a refresher. You can attend the open office hours through this link.
- For questions about volunteering, please contact CBF consultant Linda Rio at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Advocating for Responsible Solutions to the Border Crisis
As Congress considers responses to the current crisis at the border, several interconnected solutions will help more effectively manage these challenges in a way that is consistent with our nation’s values and interests.
That starts with pairing new funding for border security needs with significant increases in funding for the Immigration Courts and USCIS to timely adjudicate cases and eliminate the increasingly untenable backlogs in the current system. There are additional practical steps that should be taken as well, which are summarized in this CBF policy paper.
We encourage you to contact your Senators and Representative to advocate for practical solutions to the current crisis.