CALA and other immigrant and civil rights organizations across Illinois have submitted a request to the Honorable Lloyd Karmeier, Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, to protect families from immigration activities at Illinois courthouses.
CALA is looking for an attorney with genuine interest in community lawyering, connecting the law with grassroots activism, and being part of a new legal services model to be a part of our early development.
To address the increasing concerns of immigrant communities and Their allies, CALA has created special initiatives to help.
The Community Activism Law Alliance (CALA) has created two special initiatives: the CALA Immigration Helpline and Know Your Rights Community Workshops. Both campaigns provide completely free support to immigrant communities—particularly those who are not eligible for federally-funded programs—and organizations serving immigrants that do not have access to an attorney.
CALA’s newest clinic is a partnership with the well-regarded immigrant-services organization, Mano a Mano in Lake County. Per a legal audit completed by Mano, there are only 2-3 immigration attorneys in all of Lake County. Of those, all are private attorneys charging market rates. Due to generous funding, our Lake County legal clinic is able to offer free and/or reduced fee services to families throughout the county. Without our services, many families in Lake County simply would never be able to attempt to adjust status.
A recent case is an example of how our assistance can make all the difference in the communities we serve. Mr. Moreno Santillan’s daughter was murdered by a former partner in August. Since then, he has been in court trying to adopt his granddaughters and assisting the police in the investigation of his daughter’s murder. While Prairie State Legal Service’s have provided legal assistance for the adoption, Mr. Moreno Santillan had not been able to find anyone to help with his immigration case because he could not afford legal fees. Because of CALA, he is now receiving free immigration assistance and is on the path to resolving his immigration issues. Mr. Moreno Santillan is relieved that he can finally breathe a little easier and doesn’t have to live in constant fear.
CALA staff members were proud to stand in solidarity with #FightFor15 protests on November 29th throughout the city of Chicago.
CALA stood with fast-food workers at McDonalds, uber drivers, hospital workers, and airport workers at O'Hare International Airport.
We demanded $15 an hour with union rights for all workers, saying no to all deportations, and demanding an end to police brutality against black individuals.
Check Out CALA's Lawyering Beyond Boundaries T-Shirt only $20 Dollars + Shipping. Perfect for this holiday season!
CALA is excited to announce that Charles Clarke is joining our CALA team as a law clerk. Charles will join CALA as a staff attorney in the summer of 2017, after he completes a JD/PhD in law and political theory at Northwestern University. His dissertation examines the relationship between the legal concept of deportation and the political concept of democracy and his master's thesis analyzed the spate of anti-immigrant laws passed by states in 2010-11. He speaks Spanish and is proficient in French.
Charles wants two things out of life: to live in a truly democratic society and to be able to look himself in the mirror everyday knowing he's done all he can to bring this about. He's incredibly grateful to CALA for providing him the opportunity to work towards both.
CALA’s Commitment to Our Communities, Partners, and Clients
Last Tuesday 11/8/16 was a hard day for us—for everyone who believes in justice and equality for all people. We at CALA have spent the past week processing the wounds the election has inflicted on us, our families, and the communities we serve. But we’ve also been preparing ourselves to fight: to fight as hard as we can, in every way possible, against every threat that the government poses, and will pose.
CALA was founded to unite lawyers and activists together, and such collaborations will be desperately needed during the upcoming Trump administration. We promise that CALA’s commitment to working in genuine partnership with communities and activists will not only endure but grow stronger. We are more determined than ever to bringing community-located, community-collaborative, and community-directed free legal services to those threatened by insidious ideology, including undocumented immigrants, laborers, sex workers, and progressive activists.
In light of campaign and post-election statements by Donald Trump regarding the deportation of up to 3 million immigrants, we have developed the following recommendations and strategies to support not only our current partner communities but all immigrants without access to an attorney.
1. Priority and Increased Resources. CALA will prioritize and increase its resources for free legal services to low-income undocumented immigrants.
a. All of CALA’s staff will take on additional work to support initiatives focused on responding to, and protecting those targeted by, Donald Trump’s immigration policies.
b. CALA will develop and support additional pro bono work for immigrants from private attorneys and law firms.
2. Vigilance. We will create an attorney position to specifically monitor and strategize responses to potential threats in collaboration with our partner communities and organizations across the country.
3. Attorney Consultations & CALA Helpline. CALA strongly recommends that all legal permanent residents (green card holders) and undocumented immigrants consult with an attorney as soon as possible. We have created a helpline, 872-267-CALA (2252), to provide legal consultations for any undocumented immigrant who is not able to consult with an attorney. We will respond no later than 48 hours to any calls involving recent detentions, 72 hours to calls related to removal proceedings, and 7 days to all other calls.
4. Screening Workshops. We will work with our partners to hold large-scale screening events, at which we will provide free immigration screenings and legal consultations.
5. Know Your Rights. All immigrants should ensure that they know their rights in dealing with immigration and police officials, and how to handle potential issues arising from these interactions. Therefore, CALA will offer free Know Your Rights immigration presentations and trainings to any community that would like to host one.
6. Citizenship Workshops. All green card holders should consult with an attorney about naturalization as soon as they are eligible. We will increase the frequency and quantity of our citizenship workshops. Please check our website, Facebook page, and e-newsletter for upcoming dates.
7. DACA. CALA will continue to offer DACA services, but only for current DACA recipients seeking renewal who have not had any change in circumstances. We advise against submitting initial applications or renewal applications with material changes such as a change of address or new criminal arrest issues.
8. Advance Parole. We do not recommend applying, and will no longer offer services, for advance parole, except for emergency situations.
9. Immigration Relief Applicants. CALA does not recommend that, absent very extenuating circumstances such as urgent deadlines, undocumented immigrants who have recently arrived; have criminal records; or have been suspected of gang involvement, terrorism, or espionage submit any applications until we have greater clarity regarding the changes that the new administration will make to immigration laws, regulations, and policies. We will continue to offer services for other forms of immigration relief; however, we will not submit most applications on behalf of clients who may be targeted by any deportation agenda set by Donald Trump from now until February 2017. For clients with pending applications, we will closely monitor their situations and contact any client about whom we have concerns.
10. Coalition Building. While undocumented immigrants are the immediate targets, Trump has made clear that his administration will seek to hurt many minority groups. We must ensure that all groups opposed to his divisive, hate-filled ideology work together in the upcoming struggle. CALA hopes its work with diverse communities and activists can contribute to cross-movement coalitions.
Please let us know if there are any other concerns that you would like for us to address, or if there are any other ways that CALA can help. Please also consult our website or Facebook page for future updates as we learn more about how things are developing. Finally, and most importantly, know that we will stand with you, and we will fight alongside you.
Solidarity in Resistance,
CALA (Community Activism Law Alliance)
CALA's 2nd year Anniversary Celebration Event!
Please join us as we celebrate two years of community impact through our work with our community partners to create 5 “community activism-law clinics” directly in the communities we serve; helped over 3,500 clients—most of whom are undocumented immigrants, day laborers, and sex workers unable to obtain free legal aid from other legal aid organizations; empowered and protected the rights of activists; and supported activism campaigns that have impacted thousands of people.
CALA is extremely pleased to welcome our newest member of our Board of Directors: Samuel Goldberg. Sam is a public defender in the Juvenile Division of the Office of the Will County Public Defender. He recently moved to the Chicagoland area. Prior to moving, Sam worked at the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender in the Mercer County Trial Region from 2012 to 2015. In that capacity, he represented hundreds of individuals accused of felony-level offenses. Prior to his work at the Office of the Public Defender in New Jersey, Sam was the Gault Fellow at the National Juvenile Defender Center, where he co-authored a best practices manual for juvenile defense attorneys nationwide. Sam earned his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Columbia University in 2005 and his Juris Doctorate from NYU School of Law in 2010. Sam is fluent in Spanish.
CHECK OUT WHAT CALA ACHIEVED IN ITS 1ST YEAR
“Lawyers Beyond Boundaries”- Pushing the boundaries to break down barriers for undocumented immigrants
CALA INTERN, CAITLIN CERVENKA, HELPS VICTIM OF SEXUAL ASSAULT, WHILE LEARNING ABOUT COMMUNITY ACTIVISM LAWYERING
During my summer internship at the Community Activism Law Alliance, I have learned quite a bit about the work that needs to be done to help break down the persistent boundaries that our undocumented clients face. This summer, I became familiar with the process for certifying U Visa petitions. For those of you who are not familiar with U Visas, let me first include an explanation of what a U Visa is, just to share a glimpse of the vast practical knowledge I have gained during my internship this summer.
If an undocumented person is a victim of one of twenty-six violent or serious crimes in the United States, and that person made a police report and/or cooperated with law enforcement, prosecution, or a judge, they may qualify for a U Visa. The U Visa program was enacted as a way to help vulnerable undocumented immigrants feel safe reporting crimes to police. Part of the U Visa process, however, is getting that police officer, prosecution, or judge to certify the U Visa supplement. This is key; If no one will certify, that person cannot apply for a U Visa.
Law enforcement agencies under law have discretion to certify U Visas. Many law enforcement agencies are highly cooperative and support the U Visa program. However, occasionally our clients come across agencies who are not so cooperative, even as a matter of their own policy. These agencies may be anti-immigrant, or simply lacking knowledge of the U Visa program. For whatever reason, if they refuse to certify, our clients will not be able to get a U Visa, and may remain vulnerable to their abusers or unable to seek immigration relief.
Marta (client name changed) came to the Community Activism Alliance seeking immigration relief. She had been sexually assaulted by a former partner, and had testified at trial to put him in prison. This made her eligible for a U Visa. However, the crime and the subsequent trial took place in a suburban county, and not in the city of Chicago, and so when attorney Nebula Li asked the Assistant State’s Attorney in that county to certify Marta’s U Visa, they told her that they did not certify U Visas. They would not assist Marta, a woman who had testified about a traumatic experience in her life at trial for them, any further.
By law, police officers and judges can also certify U Visas; so Marta was not out of options. When I called the suburban police department that investigated Marta’s assault, the receptionist told me that she “did not think they do that here.” I then called the office of the judge who helped Marta get an order of protection against her abuser. The judge’s sympathetic clerk had not heard of U Visas but told me that she was interested in learning more about it. I wrote her an informative letter, prepared the certification document, and sent her a packet.
A few weeks later, CALA finally received Marta’s U Visa certification in the mail. CALA’s motto is “Lawyering Beyond Boundaries,” because of the work CALA does to help people that typically no one else can help. The nice clerk however, must have misunderstood our letterhead and instead addressed her cover letter to “Caitlin Cervenk” at “Lawyers Beyond Boundaries.” Thankfully, the certification was filled out accurately, and we are now able to submit the client’s U Visa. This will put her on a path toward legal status, and hopefully permanent legal status.
The refusal of a prosecutor or any other law enforcement agency to certify U Visa applications is an extreme barrier to our clients’ security. Domestic violence crimes and sexual assault are two of the most common crimes that undocumented people experience, and because women experience domestic violence and sexual assault in numbers disproportionately higher than men, the refusal of law enforcement agencies to certify U Visa applications disparately impacts undocumented and vulnerable immigrant women. Further, had Marta’s crime happened in an urban county, the police and prosecutor would likely have been more willing to certify her application. Fortunately, a judge listened to CALA, and was willing to help Marta. CALA will now apply for a U Visa for Marta so that Marta get the relief she deserves.
CONGRATS CAITLIN ON YOUR VICTORY, AND THANKS FOR YOUR HARD WORK THE ENTIRE SUMMER!
CHAD BAKER, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL '15, JOINS CALA TEAM
CALA is extremely excited to have Chad Baker as the newest member of our team. Chad joins us fresh from graduating from Harvard Law School with numerous distinctions and honors.
He graduated HLS magna cum laude (’15), where he served as Executive Director of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, the nation’s oldest student-run legal services organization, where CALA founder Lam Ho also trained as a student-attorney. There, he managed the Bureau’s office and docket, represented low-income tenants in eviction proceedings, and staffed a family law clinic at a Boston women’s shelter. Through the Bureau’s strong community partnerships, free legal clinics, and legal support of grassroots organizing, Chad began to discover the power and potential of a community activism lawyering model. During law school, Chad also served as a student advocate with the Tenant Advocacy Project and the Prison Legal Assistance Project and interned at the Public Benefits Practice Group of LAF (formerly Legal Assistance Foundation) and the New York Civil Liberties Union.
Chad won the 2015 Andrew L. Kaufman Pro Bono Service Award in recognition of his commitment to free legal services while in law school: he completed over 2000 pro bono hours at HLS! Prior to law school, he served in the AmeriCorps City Year program, where he provided individualized support to students at Marshall Metropolitan High School on Chicago’s West Side. He graduated summa cum laude from DePaul University (’10) with a B.A. in Sociology.
Read more about Chad and his accomplishments:
WELCOME CHAD! THANKS FOR JOINING OUR COMMUNITY ACTIVISM LAWYERING TEAM!
Our New Technology Surge: Thanks to Our New Partnership With Smokeball
CALA is super excited to announce our new partnership with Smokeball, a Chicago-based company with over twenty years of experience providing its incredible case management software to solo attorneys and small organizations like CALA. As part of its new Legal Clinics & Pro Bono Attorneys program, Smokeball has very generously provided free software licenses and specialized training to our entire, and expanding, team. While we are only a few weeks into our transition to Smokeball, it’s already apparent that CALA has been turbo-charged technologically! Smokeball has and will continue to make our attorneys, volunteers, and interns more efficient and save us countless hours: meaning we will able to help more low-income, underserved clients!
The Perfect Fit for Our Community Activism Lawyering Model
CALA’s was founded to address the challenges low-income, underserved populations face accessing justice, and also push the boundaries of what lawyers can achieve. Our model—community activism lawyering—not only brings free legal services directly to clients overlooked or rejected by other organizations, in locations geographically convenient to them, while increasing grassroots activism in their communities; it also allows us to do so at a significantly reduced cost. We eliminate nearly all need for (expensive, downtown) real estate by using free, existing space, and our operational expenses are significantly decreased through staffing and administrative support provided by community volunteers. Not only does this ensure that our legal clinics are within the communities they serve—accessible and familiar—but it also creates a sense of ownership and investment for the community, all the while creating more funding to be used directly for serving clients.
Integral to our model’s success is the use of effective and low-cost technology that allows us to spend our time directly in the community serve. Instead of sitting in an office (downtown), waiting for our clients to come to us, we do our work in our client’s communities. We reach out to clients, conduct their intakes, hold meetings, help them fill out paperwork, prepare for court, discuss case strategies, and organize events… all inside community locations on the south and west sides of Chicago. That means we need technology that will let us quickly and efficiently access our files wherever we happen to be, especially documents, notes, and e-mails. Smokeball allows us to do all that—and more—and more importantly, it fully integrates everything we need for each client file into one convenient location.
Although we’re still learning how to maximize all of Smokeball’s numerous functions, our attorneys have started using, and benefitting from, Smokeball’s document and information automation tools. We can’t wait to fully take advantage of the ability to automatically generate and complete letters, and even court documents, that we currently are filling out manually.
Making Smokeball Into an Even More Invaluable Resource For Legal Aid
CALA is thrilled not only for the technology boost that Smokeball has kindly given to our team, but we are also extremely grateful for how responsive Smokeball’s staff has been in accommodating CALA’s specific needs, many of them common to other organizations serving low-income and other disadvantaged population. We hope that our partnership with Smokeball will help to spread Smokeball’s amazing Legal Clinics & Pro Bono Attorneys program, and that our we can make the Smokeball into an even more invaluable resource for other legal aid organizations, clinics, and pro bono attorneys.
THANK YOU SMOKEBALL FOR OUR TECHNOLOGY SURGE!
Find out more about Smokeball and the Legal Clinics & Pro Bono Attorneys program: http://www.smokeball.com/smokeball-legal-clinics-pro-bono-attorneys/?utm_source=calachicago&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=blog&utm_campaign=probono
Echoing Green Fellowship Will Help CALA Expand the Availability of Free Legal Services and Activism to Underserved Clients, Including Undocumented Immigrants, Sex Workers, and Day Laborers.
Global nonprofit Echoing Green announced last week that CALA has been awarded a highly competitive and prestigious Global Fellowship to help develop the Community Activism Law Alliance (CALA). The Fellowship will provide seed funding, mentoring and leadership opportunities as the organization unites lawyers, communities and activists to bring free legal services directly into the communities that need them the most.
Ellen Craig, President of CALA’s Board of Directors, remarked, “CALA's staff, community partners and Board of Directors are very pleased that Echoing Green, an internationally-recognized nonprofit that is building a global community of emerging leaders in social change, has awarded one of its coveted Global Fellowships to Lam Ho, CALA's founder and Executive Director. We appreciate Echoing Green's generous support which will enable CALA to continue to provide our underserved communities access to justice and to pursue social change in collaboration with our community partners.”
Of 3,629 applicants, 52—just over one percent—were selected to receive Fellowships. Through three Fellowship categories (Global, Climate and Black Male Achievement), Echoing Green has invested almost $40 million in seed-stage funding and strategic assistance to nearly 700 world-class leaders. Echoing Green also supports the Fellow community long after their initial funding period through ongoing programs and opportunities at critical points in their careers.
CALA will receive $80,000 in funding for two years, participate in leadership development events, receive mentoring from leading business professionals and, most importantly, become part of a global network of leaders.
“We’re proud to be investing in tomorrow’s leaders, helping them go further, faster, as they realize their vision of a world changed for the better,” said Echoing Green President Dr. Cheryl Dorsey. “Many of the Fellows chosen are leading projects in the earliest stages, when it is hardest to find the necessary resources to get off the ground.”
Echoing Green’s Fellowship program is made possible through private contributions and the generous support of funders, including the Walton Family Foundation, the U.S. Global Development Lab of USAID, the Jerome L. Greene Foundation, The ZOOM Foundation, and the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, with support from the Open Society Foundations.
About the Community Activism Law Alliance:
Community Activism Law Alliance (CALA) uses a model of community activism lawyering to unite lawyers and activists to collaboratively help underserved communities access justice and pursue social change. Through these partnerships, CALA creates activism-law clinics within and by Chicago communities with the highest rates of poverty and crime. They provide free legal services to undocumented immigrants, laborers, and sex workers, while supporting their partners’ grassroots activism for greater, empowered, and more durable impact than what lawyers, and the law, alone could achieve. CALA hopes to change how attorneys and activists nationwide work for and with communities. CALA currently operates 4 free community activism law clinics on the west and south sides of Chicago.
Learn More: www.calachicago.org
About Echoing Green:
Echoing Green’s mission is to unleash next generation talent to solve the world's biggest problems. Echoing Green was one of the first organizations to invest in early-stage social entrepreneurs through our Fellowship program almost 30 years ago. Today, the organization remains focused on building a global community of emerging leaders in social change. To date, the organization has supported almost 700 organizations led by the most extraordinary purpose-driven leaders of our time. Echoing Green Fellows include the founders of Teach For America, City Year, One Acre Fund, The Global Fund for Children and SKS Microfinance. Echoing Green’s accelerator programming and investments help these leaders to go further, faster. Echoing Green also runs a suite of innovative programs that cultivate and support promising leaders, including programming dedicated to purpose development, board leader preparation, and impact investing.
Learn More: echoinggreen.org
Just in the month of May, CALA Worked with Centro de Trabajadores Unidos to Launch Its 4th Community Activism Law Clinic, Helped Immigrants Become Citizens at a Naturalization Workshop, and Attended CTU's Groundbreaking for Its New Community Center.
May was a very busy month for CALA, highlighted by the achievements made possible by our partnership with Centro de Trabajadores Unidos - Immigrant Workers Project (CTU). In less than a month, we completed our first citizenship workshop, launched our 4th community activism law clinic in South Chicago, and helped CTU celebrate its community center groundbreaking.
On Saturday May 2nd, CALA collaborated with CTU to present its first citizenship workshop. Due to budgetary cuts, CTU did not have sufficient resources for and planned to cancel its previously scheduled workshop to help legal permanent residents become American citizens. CALA's staff and volunteers attorneys offered to oversee and provide the additional resources to make the workshop possible. As a result, CTU was able to proceed with its plans, and we were able to help approximately 20 families apply for naturalization.
Then, on May 7, we extended our free community-based, activism-driven legal services to the far southside of Chicago, and surrounding suburbs. Operating every Thursday from 4pm-8pm, the clinic will focus on employment/labor, housing, immigration, and criminal records , but attorneys at the clinic will provide advice, consultation, and self-advocacy assistance in all areas of law. At our launch, the clinic was completely packed; at one point, our conference room, waiting area, and even the stairways was filled with clients waiting for intakes. By the end of the night, we had completed intakes for over 15 cases.
Finally, on May 16th, CALA joined in the groundbreaking of CTU's community center. The community center will house CALA's legal clinic as well as a number of other programs serving the community, including organizing space and a pilot program for CTU entrepreneurs. The featured speeches from CTU staff and 10th Ward Alderman John A Pope. We wish CTU all the best luck going forward with their new space.
A GAZILLION THANKS TO ALL OF CALA'S SUPPORTERS WHO ATTENDED CALA'S 1ST FUNDRAISER
CALA would like to thank all of our supporters who attended and made our very first fundraising event a great, fun success! The event was hosted by board members Liz Tracy and Thomas Alaan on River's outdoor deck under lovely weather and views of Chicago.
In addition to the money we raised--all of which will be used to directly serve communities on the west and south sides of Chicago with the least access to free legal services, the event also brought together our supporters to catch up with our board members and staff on CALA's work. We also met some new friends, who we hope will join our supporters in helping CALA serve the most disadvantaged by uniting lawyers, communities, and activists to pursue greater social change than they can achieve alone.
Again: AN OVATION TO OUR SUPPORTERS, NEW FRIENDS, as well as LIZ TRACY, THOMAS ALAAN, and MARIANNA CHAPLEAU--who organized the fabulous event!
Check out pictures of the events below (photography by Thomas Alaan).
CALA TO OPEN 4TH CLINIC ON FAR SOUTHSIDE ON MAY 7, 2015
CALA will open its 4th community activism law clinic this week on May 7, 2015, extending its free community-based, activism-driven legal services to the far southside of Chicago, and surrounding suburbs. The clinic will be co-operated by Centro de Trabajadores Unidos: Immigrant Workers Project (CTU).
The clinic will operate every Thursday from 4pm-8pm. It will alternate between CTU's office at 3200 East 91st Street Chicago, Illinois 60617, and the Progress Center for Independent Living’s (PCIL) office at 12940 S. Western Ave., 3rd Fl, Blue Island, IL 60406, under the following schedule:
1st Thursday of Each Month (Walk-In Intakes): CTU, 3200 East 91st, Chicago
2nd Thursday of Each Month (Walk-In Intakes): PCIL, 3200 East 91st, 12940 S. Western Ave., 3rd Fl, Blue Island
3rd Thursday of Each Month (By Appointment Only): CTU, 3200 East 91st, Chicago
4th Thursday of Each Month (By Appointment Only): PCIL, 3200 East 91st, 12940 S. Western Ave., 3rd Fl, Blue Island
CALA's CTU Community Activism Law Clinic will be a free, full-service legal clinic for low-income individuals. It will provide a wide-range of services from advice, extended assistance, representation, to community legal education. The clinic will provide free consultations, along with advice and self-advocacy assistance in nearly all areas of civil law. Additional services, including representation, will be available for housing, immigration, criminal records, and employment/labor cases. Legal services, including full representation, will be completely free of charge to clients. Additionally, the CTU Clinic will support CTU’s DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)/DAPA (Deferred Action for Parental Accountability) and citizenship workshops.
As with all our CALA's community activist partnerships, CALA will provide legal support for CTU's organizing, advocacy, consciousness raising, community leadership development, and other activism efforts.
TU is an activist work center founded by a group of immigrant workers "determined to create a stable resource to serve Chicago’s southeast side." Their mission "is to have a powerful immigrant run organization in the southeast side of Chicago that will educate workers on their rights, develop leadership within the immigrant community, support and organize all workers as they fight for their rights in the workplace and fight for changing policy that increases standards for immigrant workers. The long-term vision would also include a component that would offer career advancement so immigrant workers can advance from low-wage, low-skill jobs into the high-skill jobs of our new economy.”