By: James Porter* and Jeff Chenoweth**
Earlier this year, CLINIC reached a milestone in its 23-year history: it accepted its 200th affiliate. Starting with only 17 members in 1988, hard work and collaboration has paid off. In part, aided by the addition of non-Catholic subscribers, CLINIC has become the largest network of charitable immigration service providers operating in 46 states out of 292 field offices.
CLINIC affiliates employ roughly 1,200 people who come from a diversity of backgrounds; they include many foreign born persons and mostly minorities, women, and former refugees who are not attorneys. Some are on their second career and most have been accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). It is this group of dedicated and passionate people that are the backbone of CLINIC’s network and truly embody the mission of the organization.
From Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine, over 700,000 people are served annually by CLINIC’s affiliates. These people come from all walks of life and are served regardless of their race, religion, nationality, and ethnic group. Services provided are mostly legal in nature for low-income and vulnerable immigrant populations such as survivors of domestic violence and unaccompanied minors. However, many CLINIC affiliates address the broad integration needs of the foreign-born.
The need for charitable legal immigration services continues to grow as the number of foreign-born remains steady. The lack of comprehensive immigration reform and increased enforcement actions keep undocumented immigrants uncertain about their future. Many turn to unauthorized practitioners, “notarios,” for information, often causing more harm than good. Consequently, CLINIC continues to work with existing immigration programs to expand their services and with other nonprofits to start an immigration legal program, particularly where services are lacking or not available. For more information on becoming a CLINIC affiliate click here.
Tell us the best part about being a CLINIC affiliate in the comments below!
*James Porter is the Communications Officer for CLINIC
**Jeff Chenoweth is the Director of the Center for Citizenship and Immigrant Communities