LOS ANGELES (July 30, 2013) — With immigration reform continuing to grab headlines, speculation about potential consequences continues to circulate among immigrant communities.
In order to equip communities with accurate information, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles (Advancing Justice – LA), formerly known as the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, is launching Pro(ject) Family. Through this initiative, Advancing Justice – LA will be providing informational workshops on the current immigration reform legislative process and also host family-based petition clinics to help eligible individuals petition for their same-sex spouses, siblings, and adult married children.
Pro(ject) Family’s focus on these three categories is in direct response to Senate immigration reform bill provisions that eliminates the ability of U.S. citizens to sponsor their brothers and sisters for green cards, and places an age cap on their ability to sponsor adult married children that are 31 years old or older. Significantly for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities, these are the forms of immigration most used by AAPIs to join loved ones in the U.S.
The clinics will also serve same-sex bi-national couples in sponsoring their partners. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a provision in the Defense of Marriage Act in Windsor v. U.S. that denied such benefits to Americans with foreign-born partners.
“This is a critical time in our nation’s immigration history,” said Connie Choi, staff attorney for the Immigrant Rights Project at Advancing Justice – LA. “With impending potential elimination and curtailment of family immigration visas in comprehensive immigration reform legislation, we urge our community to advocate with their legislators. However, we welcome a recent Supreme Court decision that finally brings same-sex spouses into the family-based immigration process.”
The immigration reform informational sessions and the family petition clinics will be conducted jointly every first and third Tuesday of the month, at Advancing Justice – LA’s office. At the informational workshops, updates will be provided on the immigration reform bill that passed the Senate, what is being proposed in the House, and what the potential implications are for community members.
At the clinics, formally titled the Family Reunification Clinic, clients will be assisted with initiating the family petitioning process (Form I-130). For a fee of $100 (additional fees may be assessed for multiple petitions), clinic attendees will get a consultation with a Pro(ject) Family staff person, as well as receive assistance in preparing their I-130 (Petition for Family Relative), which includes the gathering and organizing of necessary documents, form completion, and preparation for self-filing.
“We hope to provide families with assistance to navigate the complex family-based immigration system,” said Joyce Noche, supervising attorney for Advancing Justice – LA’s Immigration and Citizenship Project. “At the clinics, we will provide consultations, as well as assist clients in the gathering and organizing of necessary documents, form completion, and preparation for self-filing.”
Until immigration reform that is comprehensive, fair, and humane is enacted, Advancing Justice – LA encourages individuals to come forward and take advantage of the clinic’s services.
“It’s important for our communities to know that we do not have a new immigration law and no application process for getting legal status in the U.S. We only have proposals by Congress and nothing has been signed into law,” said Stewart Kwoh, president and executive director of Advancing Justice – LA. “We are providing these services because it is possible that such opportunities to petition for family members may not be available in the future. We urge community members to be careful of advertised services for immigration relief.”
The Family Reunification Clinic is set to launch on August 6, 2013, and will be provided every first and third Tuesday of the month through the end of 2013. Clients who wish to use the clinic’s services must make appointments, as walk-ins cannot be accommodated. For any inquiries or to set up an appointment, individuals should email: [email protected]