New Legislation Brings New Opportunity

As Target Corporation**, Lindquist & Vennum*, and the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota (ILCM) demonstrate, with new legislation comes new opportunities to serve those in desperate need of legal assistance.

In June 2012, the Obama Administration issued a directive implemented by the Department of Homeland Security which provides eligible immigrants the opportunity to defer deportation action and seek work authorization through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.  In Minnesota, a team of lawyers from Target, Lindquist, and ILCM, worked together to develop a pro bono project to help these young immigrants realize their rights under this new directive.

According to the ILCM, there are as many as 9,000 immigrants in Minnesota that may qualify for assistance under the DACA program, and the process to obtain a determination to defer removal is multi-stepped.  The assistance of counsel can make all the difference for a young applicant.

Within six months of the issuance of the directive, the partners developed a project to respond to the need.  The partners focused on building a project that had a strong foundation to ensure its longevity and maximize its response.  Each organization assumed defined and necessary roles.  ILCM conducts client intake and provides training and ongoing support to the volunteers while Target and Lindquist provide volunteers to assist the clients.  In addition, Lindquist contributes administrative support to the project and Target provides volunteers for translations, when needed.

Paralegals and translators prove vital assistance to the project.  After undergoing training, the paralegals interview applicants together.  Paralegals then review materials, sort data, and assemble the DACA applications with supervision from attorneys.  Target’s Hispanic Business Council and multilingual attorneys act as interpreters at some client interviews and translate documents when necessary.  Overall, attorneys and non-attorneys typically spend 15-20 hours on each DACA case.

In just the first year, the team has been highly successful, taking on 5-10 percent of the DACA cases that ILCM refers to pro bono attorneys.  Moreover, it has become a popular project at both Target and Lindquist.  At Target, approximately 10 percent of in-house counsel, 20 percent of paralegals, and additional multi-lingual employees participate.

This combined effort is not only remarkable for its responsiveness to a new opportunity, but it also aims to last and expand over time in order to assist the increasing number of people who will need pro bono aid with immigration matters.  With anticipated new state and federal immigration legislation, millions more may need assistance.

We look forward to hearing more from this partnership and its efforts to provide pro bono services to meet the needs of those in its community.

* denotes Signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®
** denotes a Signatory to the Corporate Pro Bono Challenge®