About the Clinic
The Vietnamese Association of Illinois (VAI) Community Empowerment Legal Clinic (CELC) is a full service legal program operated in partnership with CALA which not only serves low-income immigrants and refugees on Chicago’s Northside, tackling legal problems and social welfare needs, but also empowers community members through advocacy, civic engagement and organizing initiatives. By offering advice, case assistance, know-your-rights workshops, advocacy trainings and other pro bono services, CELC will strengthen the diverse community VAI serves in Uptown, Edgewater, Albany Park and surrounding areas on the Northside.
CELC provides a one stop shop for a variety of legal services, educating and empowering VAI members to understand their rights, make changes on key issues, pressure policymakers and influence local affairs. What CELC offers is free or low-cost representation and assistance open to all regardless of immigration status, language ability or other barriers to securing legal aid. CELC is also a broad umbrella covering complex cases from immigration court proceedings, asylum and deportation and family-based petitions to family law, housing issues, employment, education, consumer rights and criminal records. Since its opening in August 2017, the clinic has seen over 200 visitors, a majority of them immigrant and refugee arrivals including Syrian, Iraqi, Vietnamese, Rohingya, Iranian, Ethiopian, Nigerian and other stakeholders on the Northside. CELC offers services in Arabic, Vietnamese, English and Spanish.
The clinic specializes in six major areas of law which includes: immigration, family, labor/employment, housing, criminal records, and education. Clients with an annual household income of 150% or less than the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) will be served free of charge; a nominal fee will be charged for clients with an annual household income of 150-200% of the FPL.
About the COMMUNITY PARTNER
The clinic “has served thousands of Vietnamese Americans and other ethnic communities in facilitating resettlement and citizenship, building community, seeking employment, addressing healthcare issues, raising political awareness, providing educational opportunities, addressing multigenerational issues for seniors and youth, establishing and expanding businesses, and strengthening cultural heritage” (VAI). Although the clinic focuses specifically on Vietnamese-Americans, they additionally cater to all races and ethnicities.
Images are courtesy of the Vietnamese Association of Illinois