The need for high-quality, low-cost immigration legal services has never been greater. Since 2016, due to rapid, sometimes overnight changes in U.S. immigration policy, the demand for legal services has exploded, especially for those to seeking protection from violence and death, unaccompanied minors, and those wanting to reunify their families. In 2017 alone, ICS provided over 90 public education and legal rights seminars, reaching over 4,000 individuals, not including listeners through weekly radio programs. In addition, ICS currently has over 1,700 open cases.
Low income immigrants and refugees have great difficulty in finding high quality legal representation, and are often victimized by unscrupulous individuals or well-meaning friends who try to help them with their “immigration papers.” Although well intentioned, most individuals in the community are ill informed and rarely qualified to provide immigration advice. The results of this incompetent “assistance” are often disastrous; in some cases, an individual who is qualified for immigration benefits is denied benefits due to receiving misleading information. Rural residents, children, people of color, LGBTQ and non-gender conforming immigrants are often the most marginalized and subject to abuse.
ICS’s offices in Hood River and Portland have served immigrants from over 90 different countries, the majority of whom have incomes below 200% of the federal poverty income guidelines. ICS also provides free community legal education assistance, and has three major program areas, with a long history of expertise in each: 1) General immigration, which includes issues such as family-based petitions, waivers and adjustments of status, asylum, and T, U and VAWA cases for crime and domestic violence victims; 2) Oregon’s only unaccompanied minors (UAC) program representing all children under the age of 18 apprehended by ICE and detained in Oregon; and 3) Oregon’s only full time anti-trafficking program focused on foreign-born victims. ICS proudly serves LGBTQ immigrants across all three program areas. All ICS staff members have deep experience in immigrant and refugee communities (many being from immigrant families themselves) and trauma-informed care, and all are bilingual in English and Spanish.