My first month as Executive Director has been an incredible and busy time of learning the work of ICS, getting to know the staff who are on the frontlines every day educating immigrants about their rights and representing them in legal proceedings, and getting to know our amazing community of supporters. I have been deeply moved by the conversations I’m having with the people who do and support the work of this 40-year old organization. As the son of migrant workers from South Texas who made a life here in Oregon, I am proud to lead the efforts of ICS in securing justice for immigrants and keeping families together.
Right now, our dedicated legal team is working on over 1700 cases related to a wide range of legal needs from residency status to family-based petitions to relief for victims of violent crime to representation in removal proceedings. To be honest, the work is daunting, and made even more so by the daily attacks on immigrant rights and chaotic changes to immigration policy. Despite the many uphill battles, we remain steadfast in our commitment to serving Oregon’s immigrant communities and are grateful to our supporters for making it possible.
To get the work done, we have deepened our collaborations with other justice organizations. This coming October 1st marks the one-year anniversary of the launch of Equity Corps, Oregon’s first universal representation program for individuals in removal proceedings. ICS joins Innovation Law Lab, Catholic Charities, SOAR, IRCO and Metropolitan Public Defenders in this important effort, which will scale to serve people across Oregon in 2020 thanks to an appropriation from the Oregon Legislature.
We are actively working with the Community Services Consortium of Linn, Benton, and Lincoln Counties to plan a monthly mobile legal clinic in Albany, which we hope to launch this fall. The clinic will be modeled after our monthly legal clinic in Redmond, which we offer in collaboration with the Latino Community Association of Central Oregon. We are deeply grateful to the Oregon Immigration and Refugee Funders Collaborative for their grant to support our expanding rural work, which is matched by the support of numerous individuals, civic groups, and congregations who raised funds for both mobile legal clinics.
We will keep you informed about these and other efforts in the months ahead, as well as any urgent calls to action related to immigration policy. I look forward to working with our community partners and our supporters, and getting to know you better. I know that, together, we can do a lot of good work to ensure equal access to justice for our immigrant neighbors.