Donate-a-Dime Organization of the Month: NM Immigrant Law Center

By Jennifer Landau

Editor’s Note: Over the past weeks, my email inbox as well as the mainstream and alternative news outlets have been flooded with scenes of great human distress, loss, fear and suffering as millions of people flee both economic and physical violence. It rests with all of us to rise to a higher level of justice, tolerance and compassion. Given what seems to be one of the world’s great modern migrations, it seems more than appropriate to acknowledge and support the work of our New Mexico Immigrant Law Center.

Founded in 2010, the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center is dedicated to preventing separation of immigrant families. In addition to ensuring family unity, we seek to strengthen immigrant families by advancing the rights and opportunities of low-income immigrants and their families. We envision a New Mexico in which all people – regardless of their race, immigration, or economic status – have equal access to justice, as well as access to education, government resources, and economic opportunities, and are able to engage fully in the civic and economic life of our neighborhoods and community.

Access to high-quality immigration services provided by NMILC enables immigrants to obtain legal status that can lead to better jobs, access to credit and bank accounts, reunification with family members, access to healthcare, increased educational opportunities for children and adults, and full participation in the civic life of our neighborhoods and communities. While gaining immigration status brings a certain level of economic and family stability, naturalization creates opportunities for newcomers to fully participate in the civic life of their communities.

Over the years we have become a leader in deportation defense, asylum, and humanitarian defense for survivors of crimes and children. We have served hundreds of New Mexican families, trained law students and volunteer attorneys, and presented at numerous public events and Continuing Legal Education programs. We have built a team of four attorneys, full-time Jesuit Volunteer Corps and Public Allies volunteers, numerous law and Latin American studies interns, and community volunteers.

We work on collaborative efforts to provide bundled services in tandem with community partners that address other barriers to increasing earning and asset development for immigrant families. With this strategy we are able to have a greater impact on the families that we collectively serve. Because we recognize the legal needs of immigrant families are intertwined with social service, health, and educational barriers, we have Pathways Navigators that assist our clients with psychosocial, medical, economic, and educational barriers by connecting them to existing services and support networks in the community.

Because we are the only legal service provider in the state to offer assistance to families facing deportation, the need for our services has been tremendous. We have discovered that many of the families facing deportation would have been on a path to citizenship if they had proper legal information when they were children. As a result, we developed a preventative legal model working in strategic partnership with schools and organizations that provide social and medical services to immigrant children and their families. Our goal is to expand access to education and services.

We are honored to be the Donate-a-Dime Organization of the Month. Please shop at La Montañita Co-op and donate your bag credit to help us continue to provide these services.