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Legal Aid helps newcomers with civil legal issues

Posted March 16, 2023
12:05 pm

Legal issues hold people, families, and entire communities back from opportunity. Immigrant families are especially vulnerable and are at more risk of being denied access to shelter, safety, and economic stability. Recent crises in Afghanistan and Ukraine brought more immigrants to our area, and many of these newcomers have civil legal needs that they cannot afford to resolve by paying a private attorney.

Legal Aid helps newcomers in two ways – both with legal work related to immigration, and through other civil legal cases to help ensure shelter, safety and economic security for newcomers.

Thanks to philanthropic support from the Cuyahoga County Immigration Legal Services Fund, and the Ohio Access to Justice Foundation, Legal Aid’s immigration practice has grown in recent years. Legal Aid serves immigrants who are low income who are refugees, domestic violence survivors, victims of trafficking and other serious crimes, detainees, lawful permanent residents, and other immigrants with status. Immigration cases Legal Aid handles include: U Visas for victims of serious crimes; T Visas for victims of human trafficking; special Immigrant Juvenile Status and other relief for unaccompanied minors; Violence Against Women Act petitions for survivors of domestic violence; family petitions; deportation; naturalization and citizenship.

With other support from Cuyahoga County, as the community works to be a more welcoming place for newcomers, Legal Aid is growing its practice to help immigrants in other areas such as housing; domestic relations; consumer rights; public benefits; obtaining special education services; and other civil legal problems. Additionally, Legal Aid has a special focus on advocacy for those with limited English proficiency.

In these efforts, Legal Aid works closely with community partners, including our medical-legal partnership sites (MetroHealth, Cleveland Clinic, St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, and University Hospitals), the local church community, Catholic Charities, and other immigrant and refugee-serving organizations.

Legal Aid is dedicated to continuing our work to help immigrants gain more stable immigration status in the United States, reach more immigrants with important legal information, and represent more immigrants in civil legal cases about issues that impact their basic needs.

Originally published in Legal Aid's "Poetic Justice" newsletter, Volume 20, Issue 1 in March 2023. See full issue at this link: “Poetic Justice” Volume 20, Issue 1.

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