UIC Law clinic joins forces with community organizations to provide support to asylum-seekers

The International Human Rights Clinic at UIC Law continues their pursuit to provide resources to migrants and asylum-seekers in Chicago as a part of their Recent Arrivals Response Project.  

The IHRC has been instrumental in providing public Asylum 101 training to better understand what the community can do to address the migrant crisis, also garnering the support of attorneys interested in addressing the ethical issues that arise in asylum cases. The clinic hosts subsequent training for individuals within the UIC system who are interested in supporting legal representation efforts in the area, an initiative led by Alejandra Palacios, UIC Law staff attorney.  

“We are constantly responding to the needs of the people we serve,” said Sarah Dávila A, assistant professor and IHRC director. “UIC Law supports the work that other organizations are already doing in the communities. We’re hitting the pavement and students will rejoin this work when they return in the fall.” 

In addition to hosting a donation drive to collect items for temporary shelters housing migrant families, the IHRC also volunteered with The Resurrection Project, an organization that promotes social change at the community level and provides financial, humanitarian, immigration, and other services that stabilize and protect families, last month.  

UIC Law participated in a pro se asylum workshop in the Pilsen neighborhood, where law students Michael McPherson and Alondra Silva joined the IHRC to help individuals fill out I-589 applications for asylum and change of address forms. The individuals participating in the workshop were previously assessed by the Resurrection Project before connecting them with volunteers. 

“This work is essential to the recent arrivals who only have a short window of time to submit their applications for immigration relief, a benefit they may be eligible for under immigration law that protects them from deportation,” Palacios said. “This work provides brief legal support to asylum-seekers who may otherwise be unable to secure an attorney before going to immigration court. Individuals may already be scheduled for hearings before the immigration court in state they are no longer present in, and they need their cases transferred to their current location.”  

“I was excited to learn that the Resurrection Project has volunteer programs that help undocumented migrants understand their legal rights and find legal and medical assistance in their community,” McPherson said. “Anyone choosing to support the work of this fantastic organization will be helping to further its mission of advocating for the legal and human rights of the members of Pilsen and surrounding Chicago communities.” 

“I am grateful to have been part of the workshop. These are families that are in search of safety and a better life, and I am so glad I was able to help out,” Silva added. 

The work of the recent arrival’s response project continues through the month of July as the IHRC joins the Citizenship and Immigration Expo at Fiesta del Sol, the largest Latino family festival in Chicago, hosted by the Pilsen Neighbors Community Council. The team will be available July 28 and 29 providing the following resources: 

  • Friday, July 28: The IHRC will have a table from noon–7 p.m. providing general information on asylum and immigration relief and printed and electronic resources. 
  • Saturday, July 29: The IHRC will be conducting free legal assessments virtually for individuals who sign up for the service.  

Those interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities or getting involved with community organizations providing direct support can fill out the IHRC Volunteer Interest Form. This will allow the clinic to send you more information about how to get involved and share asylum resources. 

 Those interested in accessing the recording for the Asylum 101 lecture can email the clinic at law-ihrc@uic.edu. 

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