Immigration Law and Justice Network (ILJN)

Country: United States
Advance #901285 DONATE NOW

Project Information

Serving immigrants seeking legal status with legal counsel, advocacy and support services.

Describe the need affecting community

Throughout the U.S., there is an urgent need for free/low-cost legal representation protecting the rights of immigrants, refugees and asylees to access humanitarian relief and gain legal status. Families and children fleeing danger, violence, economic instability and persecution deserve compassion, protection and safety. However, without immigration legal help in a system stacked against them, the future is bleak for undocumented families.

Research shows that detained immigrants who received legal counsel were 11 times more likely to seek humanitarian relief – and twice as likely as unrepresented immigrants to obtain relief. Yet most immigrants cannot afford private attorneys, nor do they have access to pro bono representations. When immigrant families in the U.S. struggle to pay for food, rent and utilities, they can’t pay for the legal support they need for long-term health and security.

Clients are mainly women and children and options for immigration legal services are limited. Without access, asylum seekers and immigrants risk losing their cases, deportation and prolonged stays in custody. Returning or remaining in their countries means they could lose their lives and face persecution and violence; by seeking asylum in the U.S. and waiting for their cases, they face risk of assault, mistreatment and trauma.

But our clients gain relief such as documentation for legal employment in the U.S. – an essential step to self-sufficiency. Studies show that with legal status/citizenship, immigrants increase incomes, home ownership, health outcomes and education levels. Legal status and employment authorization benefits entire families, letting them and their communities thrive.

How will this Advance project help to address the need?

In the last 10 years, we’ve helped 40,000 immigrants/families from 174 countries reunite, escape violence and obtain work authorization and citizenship. We support 19 locally operated sites, serving over 5,000 immigrants, refugees and asylum-seekers each year. Sites host over 50 free or low-cost immigration legal clinics every year in churches and community settings.

We facilitate exceptional legal services through mentorship, training and communications on issues of governance, programming and fundraising. This helps sites implement best practices in their work.

Describe the primary goal of the project

ILJ Network’s goal is to pursue justice for immigrants, asylees and refugees while offering a sense of safety, trust and belonging via low-cost expert legal counsel, advocacy and support services across our footprint in the U.S. As a result, those we serve are empowered to work and live with dignity, reunite with their families after years of separation and escape violence and insecurity to find refuge in their new home.

Describe the change you would like to see in the community as a result of this Advance project

Ultimately, our vision is a nation where every immigrant has access to justice in an immigration system that honors the dignity of all people, regardless of their race, nationality, gender or status.

Contact Information

Global Ministries Contact

Alba Jaramillo, J.D.
Co-Executive Director

Melissa Bowe, J.D.
Co-Executive Director