Following successful informational meetings last week, local proponents of Deferred Action are trying to organize legal clinics similar to the one held in Des Moines Aug. 25.
The legal clinics would help immigrants eligible for Deferred Action get the process started, said Brynne Howard, an attorney with Justice for our Neighbors, the group that hosted the first clinic in Des Moines.
More than 70 people turned out Tuesday for an informational session at the Marshalltown Public Library held by Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI), said Ruth Shultz, community organizer for the group.
T-R PHOTO BY DAVID ALEXANDER
Brynne Howard, an attorney with Justice for our Neighbors, answers questions during a Deferred Action informational session Tuesday at the Marshalltown Public Library. Immigrant Allies and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement are both trying to organize legal clinics in Marshalltown to aid immigrants eligible for Deferred Action.
"It just shows how impactful this Deferred Action can be for people," Shultz said. "They want to have the right information so they can make the right decision."
CCI and Immigrant Allies are both working independently with Justice for our Neighbors to bring legal clinics to Marshalltown.
Howard said the CCI clinic would likely be sometime in November and would be of a similar size as the one in Des Moines, which saw roughly 90 people between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. To cover the cost of office supplies and the time of the lawyers, the groups asked for a $60 donation.
Immigrant Allies and Howard also visited Marshalltown High School the same afternoon as the CCI informational session. Immigrants Allies is also looking to organize a legal clinic in the upcoming months.
Joa LaVille, president of the steering committee for Immigrant Allies, said details on her group's clinic would likely be available sometime this week.
"It's exciting to see where this goes," she said. "There is a lot of work ahead."
Sister Chris Feagan, of St. Mary's Hispanic Ministry, said there is a great need to help people get their papers in order. She said she even managed to get an immigration attorney to speak after mass to help the process along.
Mainly focused on how Deferred Action will help rejuvenate the DREAM Act, Shultz said CCI members want to educate the community as a whole as the election presses ever closer.
"Deferred Action is not a permanent solution," she said.
Howard said it would likely become necessary to hold these types of legal clinics repeatedly over the next six months.
Everyone involved with planning the Marshalltown legal clinics said those seeking Deferred Action should make sure they have the appropriate papers and know whether they qualify ahead of time.
Saeth Silva, who works mainly with youth at CCI, said the process might seem daunting, but so long as people take it one step at a time, they should be fine.
"Don't be afraid," she said. "This is a good opportunity to stand up and also recognize that we also have rights."
For more information on the Immigrant Allies legal clinic contact Joa LaVille at 641-754-5738 or Sister Chris Feagan at 641-753-7815 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the CCI legal clinic, contact Ruth Shultz at 515-282-0484 or 641-485-6277 or email email@example.com.