Faith Groups to Immigrants' Defense: Community-Based Programs Spring Up to Meet Legal Needs

By Medland, Mary | National Catholic Reporter, November 12, 2004 | Go to article overview

Faith Groups to Immigrants' Defense: Community-Based Programs Spring Up to Meet Legal Needs


Medland, Mary, National Catholic Reporter


While the percentage of people living below the poverty line in the United States dropped between 1990 and 2000, the numbers nevertheless remain staggering. According to the Department of Commerce's Statistical Abstracts of the United States, in 1990 some 33 million people (18 percent), versus 31 million (15.6 percent) in 2000, were living in poverty.

Furthermore, during the 1990s, more than 11 million immigrants arrived in the United States--many of them poor, not well educated, unable to speak English and desperate.

Regardless of country of origin, these destitute residents--Americans and others--every day must cope with circumstances that are far harder than most of us could ever imagine. And having the money to pay attorneys for legal representation is far, far down their list.

As a result of this crying need, and encouraged by President George W. Bush's Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives, faith-based legal organizations have sprung up through the country. For example, 10 years ago, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network had 17 community-based programs. Today it has almost 160 member agencies providing legal services to more than 100,000 low-income immigrants annually.

Yet it is not only Catholics who are volunteering their legal expertise. There is the Christian Legal Society, Baltimore's Jewish Legal Services, Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation's Interfaith Legal Services and many others, and attorneys volunteering their time have personal affiliations with all religious traditions.

In the case of low-income immigrants, many bring with them stories of both incredible hardship and bravery. Donald M. Kerwin Jr., the executive director of Washington-based Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), points to a Haitian teenager whose father, a supporter of then-Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, had been murdered. His body had been left in a well-known dumping ground, where wild dogs mauled the dead. "It was too dangerous for this child to retrieve his father's body," said Kerwin. "He ended up hiding in the woods for months and then coming to this country as one of the many Haitian boat people.

"I remind myself that behind the anonymous people who are stocking the shelves at the Safeway or Wal-Mart there are often stories of incredible heroism and courage."

For these low-income immigrants, it is estimated that as many as 80 percent are unable to attain basic legal services. Furthermore, during the mid-1990s, legal aid programs saw congressional restrictions barring them from participating in criminal defense work, class-action suits and from representing undocumented immigrants or those evicted from public housing if that person had been charged with trafficking in drugs.

In addition to the difficulties facing all low-income immigrants, Arab immigrants and visitors, as well as naturalized Arab-Americans, have been particularly hard hit since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. "These people have been targeted for hate crimes by Americans, but they are also seen as suspicious characters by the government and are being targeted for additional scrutiny," said Karen Rignall, the national outreach director for the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services. The Dearborn, Mich., center is the largest Arab-American social service provider in the United States. "We provide immigration services, do advocacy work and have relationships with attorneys."

Rignall added that the center is one of six plaintiffs filing a class-action suit with the American Civil Liberties Union that challenges Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows for secret searches.

The Patriot Act has caused mayhem in many Arab-American communities when all visitors--although legal permanent residents were exempted--from 22 Arab and Muslim countries were required to register with the federal government, while others were threatened with deportation. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Faith Groups to Immigrants' Defense: Community-Based Programs Spring Up to Meet Legal Needs
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.