A Nonprofit Organization

Nonprofit Law Clinic Opens to Serve Immigrant Population in Need

Legal representation now available for those facing deportation without representation.

Kansas City, MO (January 26, 2012) Throughout the nation, and most notably in Kansas City, low income individuals who are facing removal from the United States with the U.S. Immigration Court are unable to obtain affordable, qualified representation. The result is nearly 1/3 of all immigrants facing removal from the United States in the local court submit to leaving the country based on poor advice.

Many of these undocumented immigrants could or would stay in the United States if better informed of their legal options by qualified legal counsel. Sadly, families are being torn apart and productive members of the Kansas City community are submitting to voluntary deportation due to this gap between understanding of the legal process and individuals in need of qualified immigration counsel.

Two Kansas City attorneys hope to change that with the formation of a nonprofit organization whose mission is to serve individuals facing removal from the United States.

The Clinic (The Clinic) is a nonprofit organization (501(C)(3) pending) that provides low income individuals and families facing immigration removal proceedings with the U.S. Immigration Court, access to quality pro bono or discounted legal representation.

A recent study found that because there is no right to appointed counsel in immigration court, many immigrants represent themselves in removal proceedings with unsuccessful outcomes. For example, According to a report 74% of non-detained individuals with representation have successful outcomes, while only 13% of non-detained individuals without counsel are successful. (Ref: AILA Shares Concern About Representation of Immigrants, December 19, 2011)

The Clinic’s founding attorneys, Michael and Rekha Sharma-Crawford, hope to close the gap between immigrants facing removal and the availability of affordable representation.

“The ability to provide free or low-cost services to those facing removal has been a long-time wish of ours,” said Rekha Sharma-Crawford, a principal of the firm and president of The Clinic’s board of directors. “There is an untold story of countless families torn apart simply because they can’t afford to be represented in court.”

The Clinic is recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals as a pro-bono / low-bono provider for the Kansas City Immigration Court.

In addition to no-cost and low-cost legal services, The Clinic will provide community outreach and education including speaker services. To learn more about The Clinic at Sharma-Crawford Attorneys at Law call 816.994.2300. www.theclinicatsharma-crawford.org

Frequently Asked Questions

Who Qualifies for Discounted or Pro Bono Services?
The Clinic uses a combination of guidelines in establishing qualifications for obtaining discounted or pro bono services. The primary qualifying factors include (1) individuals who fall below 125% of the U.S. poverty threshold as set by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and (2) individuals who are currently in removal proceedings by the U.S. Immigration Court. Other qualifying considerations include U.S. military service and certain disabilities.

How Do Individuals Obtain Services?
Those currently in removal proceedings or their immediate families may contact The Clinic to first determine eligibility requirements. Once an individual is determined to meet the qualifying guidelines they will be placed on a services waiting list. Those who do not meet the qualifying guidelines will be referred to alternatives for obtaining qualified immigration law representation in the Kansas City area.

Do You Serve Areas Outside of Kansas City?
Currently The Clinic only serves those persons who are in removal proceedings before the Kansas City Immigration Court. Persons seeking assistance will have to contact The Clinic at its Kansas City Office.  The Clinic will serve those persons currently detained by ICE.

Do You Offer Other Programs or Services?
The Clinic’s legal services are limited to representation for removal proceedings. Beyond legal representation The Clinic also provides community outreach and education including speaker services, at no cost.

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