Chicago – U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) announced the expansion of the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) Immigration Court Help Desk with new funding from the Executive Office for Immigration Review. The help desk provides access to legal rights information for immigrants who lack necessary representation. The new expansion will allow immigration lawyers from NIJC and accredited representatives to provide weekly information sessions for any immigrant who arrives for a hearing at the Chicago Immigration Court without a lawyer.
“I am thrilled that the NIJC Immigration Help Desk in Chicago has received this federal grant to expand their services,” said Rep. Quigley. “The immigration help desks have proven to be very effective in ensuring that immigrants and their families receive vital legal resources and information. Expanding these services with the help of newly dedicated federal funding will make the system easier to navigate and help guarantee all individuals receive equal treatment under our legal system.”
The NIJC is one of five legal service providers across the country who received federal funding to operate an immigration court help desk starting this month. With offices in Chicago, Washington D.C. and Goshen, IN, the group has made critical advances in the lives of hundreds of thousands of vulnerable immigrants. The organization strives to ensure human rights protections and access to justice for immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers and provides pro-bono legal services to more than 10,000 individuals each year.
Last year, Rep. Quigley and Rep. José Serrano (NY-15), members of the House Appropriations Committee, announced the inclusion of $1 million in the Fiscal Year 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Act signed by President Obama for the creation of information help desks at the nation’s most backlogged immigration courts. It was the first time that funding had been allocated for this initiative in an appropriations bill for immigration help desks.
Rep. Quigley has been a staunch advocate of comprehensive immigration reform throughout his time in Congress and has pushed Congress to pass a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants. Most recently, Rep. Quigley offered an amendment to the fiscal year 2016 Homeland Security appropriations bill that would prohibit the detention of immigrant children and families in our nation’s immigration detention centers, saving over $345 million in taxpayer dollars from family detention and reinvesting that money into more humane and cost-effective Alternatives to Detention. He joined a Congressional Equality Caucus roundtable discussion with undocumented LGBT advocates to emphasize the importance of including the LGBT immigrant community in the president’s executive actions on immigration. He used his position on the House Appropriations Committee to highlight the need for Congress to protect undocumented immigrants from abuse in detention centers, reject unconstitutional Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers and end a mandated detention bed quota that wastes millions of dollars annually. Rep. Quigley also led a letter last summer urging the president to take executive action to enact more human immigration deportation and detention policies.
(Congressman’s Quigley Office)
Caption: Congressman Mike Quigley Photo: Dariusz Lachowski