Immigrant Legal Resources at Hand in the East Bay
By Elías Magana, Health Career Connection Intern
Immigration legal services are in high demand due to the anxiety President Trump has created by his xenophobic and anti-immigrant remarks and executive orders. Undocumented and documented immigrants alike worry about their own future in the United States. The President’s ambivalent stance on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has not done anything to allay their worries. Those who desire to achieve DACA status or already have DACA status are in a state of paralysis. While President Trump has made no changes to DACA so far, many fear his administration will attempt to use confidential immigration information provided to DACA sites for deportation purposes. In the latest anti-immigrant and xenophobic move from the White House, on August 2nd President Trump introduced the RAISE Act, short for Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment. The RAISE Act would transform America’s system of immigration to grant favoritism towards English speakers who can support themselves financially. The Act also aims to prohibit recently documented immigrants from receiving welfare and other public benefits. As of now, undocumented and documented immigrants face the dilemma of pursuing further steps towards citizenship or keeping their confidential information in their own hands. Various organizations and websites that provide resources to immigrants have encouraged individuals to seek counsel from an immigration lawyer before making any permanent decisions.
Several organizations offer legal resources for the immigrant population. In Alameda County various groups have come together to form the Alameda County Immigration Legal & Education Partnership (ACILEP). This partnership works to place immigration attorneys at Centro Legal de la Raza and the Alameda County Office of the Public Defender. The attorneys at these sites will work with various community based organizations in Alameda County that interact first hand with immigrant constituents. The ACILEP suggests to call (510) 241-4011 if you see or suspect Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) activity in progress. The Centro Legal de la Raza in Oakland has a drop-in general immigration clinic that takes place the third Thursday of every month in the morning, no appointment is necessary. Likewise, the Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach holds naturalization clinics in San Francisco, the East Bay, and in Daly City at varying dates. OneJustice in San Francisco works to provide volunteer services and to assist the nonprofit sector to serve low income Californians who normally cannot afford legal services.
On the state level, Immigration Advocates and La Cooperativa can assist in finding organizations that can help you and your family anywhere in California. To find an immigration lawyer in your area, one can use www.immigrationlawhelp.org, a site that helps low-income immigrants find legal help in their area. One can also visit the Webpage for the National Immigration Law Center to obtain relevant information and resources on immigrant rights and news within the United States.