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Statutes of Liberty: There’s No Public Defender — Where to Go If You Can’t Afford an Immigration Lawyer

This sponsored column is by James Montana, Esq. and Doran Shemin, Esq., practicing attorneys at Steelyard LLC, an immigration-focused law firm located in Arlington, Virginia. The legal information given here is general in nature. If you want legal advice, contact James for an appointment.

In the United States, criminal defendants have a right to counsel. By contrast, immigrants facing deportation have a right to counsel if they can afford it. That leaves lots of poor immigrants without a lawyer. This is a big deal, because unrepresented migrants are about five times less likely to win than represented migrants.

The purpose of this short article is to provide a simple, Google-able source for good nonprofit and immigration law practices in Arlington and nearby. It won’t earn us any fees, but our business model relies on the bankability of karma, so we’re glad to do it.

Each organization has a different way of accepting new clients. We’ve listed the most updated information we have for COVID 19-era practices. If you’re reading this months from now, we encourage you to call the main number.

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Arlington, Hogar Immigrant Services, (703) 534-9805, [email protected]. Hogar Immigrant Services provides full-spectrum immigration services, including green card applications and court defense. Fees are low-bono.

Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of Washington, Immigration Legal Services, (Hi, guys!) (202) 772-4300. Full-spectrum immigration services, including green card applications and court defense.

To schedule an intake, call 202-772-4352 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Four locations across Washington, D.C. and Southern Maryland. In our opinion, the best nonprofit immigration organization in our area — but, of course, we’re biased. Fees are low-bono.

Ayuda, (703) 444-7009. Full-spectrum immigration services. To make an appointment, call at 8:30 a.m. on the 15th of the month (or on the next business day if the 15th falls on a weekend or a holiday). Fees are low-bono.

Tahirih Justice Center, (571) 282-6161, [email protected]. Specializes in services for women and girls who are previous or current victims of gender-based violence.

Just Neighbors, (703) 979-1240. Full-spectrum immigration services. In order to qualify for services with Just Neighbors, you must be a resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia and earn 200% or less of the federal poverty guidelines. Fees are low-bono.

Northern Virginia Family Service, (571) 748-2800. Not accepting new cases until January 2021. Full-spectrum immigration services.

We’re glad to answer any questions that you have about obtaining counsel or about the nonprofit landscape in our area. As always, we welcome any comments and will do our best to respond.

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