Adonia R. Simpson, Esq. is readying Catholic Charities of Baltimore, Maryland to serve a rapid increase in the number of immigrants. This is a result of President Obama’s executive actions announced on November 20 offering administrative relief to an estimated four million immigrants.
Ms. Simpson is the Managing Attorney of Catholic Charities of Baltimore’s Immigration Legal Services department called the Esperanza Center. She chose to attend one of CLINIC’s Preparing for Administrative Relief trainings twice, the most recent in Silver Spring, Maryland on December 2-3, 2014. This training was offered less than two weeks after President Obama’s announcement and included discussion on public education, eligibility screening, service delivery models, partnerships, leadership development, donor cultivation, technology, case management, and evaluation. Participants were also able to benefit from an open forum where they raised issues, asked questions, and shared best practices with one another. The two-day training concluded with small group consultations with CLINIC staff on program-specific administrative relief plans.
Catholic Charities of Baltimore’s Esperanza Center is an established program providing immigration legal services for two decades. Its legal services program employs nine staff, seven of whom are experienced immigration attorneys. Legal staff is preparing to serve a rapidly increasing number of clients based on different forms of administrative relief offered by President Obama. After participating in CLINIC’s Preparing for Administrative Relief training, Ms. Simpson learned that 14% of applicants seeking an earlier form of administrative relief offered by President Obama in 2012 were eligible for other, more beneficial, immigration benefits than the one they sought, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). With this information in mind, Ms. Simpson renewed her interest in seeing potential applicants for President Obama’s newest forms of administrative relief thoroughly screened. She also stresses that potential applicants avoid unauthorized legal practitioners.
As such, Ms. Simpson was inspired to create an online prescreening form via Google Forms that will allow potential applicants to provide their contact information and answer a couple of straight-forward questions to determine their eligibility options. This tool not only allows potential applicants to understand what documents they might need to qualify and where to get quality representation, but also be warned about unauthorized practitioners of law and fraud surrounding immigration by those wanting to do harm. This tool will also allow program staff to estimate the number of potential applicants seeking low-cost immigration legal representation.
This type of creative, forward-thinking initiative is what CLINIC hopes for in its affiliated immigration legal programs around the country.
Check out the Esperanza Center’s Administrative Relief Prescreening Form here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1q-wl18ilrtuTdmQ0cS_73N_fNeLMQUwGDHBDSf9QdMg/viewform?usp=send_form
*Nathaly Perez is Field Suupport Coordinator at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC)