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Utah Immigration Collaborative launched

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With support from the Utah Bar Foundation and other funding partners, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Salt Lake City alongside four local legal service providers—Catholic Community Services of Utah, Comunidades Unidas, Holy Cross Ministries, and Immigrant Legal Services—launched the Utah Immigration Collaborative (UIC), an immigration legal assistance network created to provide more affordable and accessible legal services to immigrants in the Beehive State, on May 1, 2020. The UIC strives to streamline and improve access to legal assistance for low-income refugees, asylees, immigrants and other displaced persons currently living in Salt Lake County. 

Aung and Sui, a refugee couple originally from Burma, photographed directly after their citizenship ceremony.

The Utah Immigration Collaborative, an immigration legal assistance network, was created to provide more affordable and accessible legal services to immigrants in the Beehive State.

Photo: Christa Cutler/Snap Shop Photos

As Martha Drake Reeves, grants manager at the IRC in Salt Lake City, recently wrote in an article published in the Utah Bar Journal, the network strives to streamline and improve “access to legal assistance for low-income refugees, asylees, immigrants and other displaced persons currently living in Salt Lake County.”

Though the network will begin service provisions in Salt Lake County, the UIC will look to expand services and partners across the state of Utah once the foundation is firmly set. As the UIC proceeds from its launch, the network will take a two-pronged approach to streamline the current suite of services spread between each agency, including:

  1. Establishing a centralized, language-accessible helpline to better coordinate services by screening and referring inquiries to the appropriate agency. The UIC phone helpline, currently operated by Comunidades Unidas, is now live at 801.382.9027 and available Mondays through Thursdays during regular business hours. Voicemail received outside of hours of operation will be responded to promptly the next business day. 
  2. Increasing the availability of immigration legal representation by growing the network of pro bono attorneys, Department of Justice accredited representatives, supervised staff paralegals and volunteer law school students who will directly provide legal assistance to vulnerable immigrant populations.

As Martha Drake wrote in the Utah Bar Journal article, “Collectively, UIC will result in improved coordination between the five major nonprofit immigrant legal providers in Salt Lake County with a goal of increasing partnerships…” Through the UIC, immigrants and other community members will be able to access a number of services, including applications for asylum and withholding of removal, naturalization, DACA, Temporary Protected Status, employment authorization documents, family reunification, general consultation, applications to attain lawful permanent resident status (green card), pro se support, removal defense, replacement of documents, representation at USCIS interviews, U nonimmigrant status (U Visa) and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) relief.

The initial seed-funding for the Utah Bar Foundation will help maintain and expand the UIC during its first three years. Meanwhile, the IRC in Salt Lake City, alongside the founding partner organizations, will collaborate on fundraising campaigns and inviting new community funders to the table to sustain the UIC for years to come.

You can support the Utah Immigration Collaborative by…

  1. Committing your legal expertise or networks to offer pro bono or volunteer services through the UIC. 
  2. Pledging a founding gift of support to ensure the UIC continues to grow and serve those most in need through an organized and collaborative network of nonprofit legal service providers.
  3. Sharing the UIC Helpline with community members in need of immigration legal services. The UIC Helpline is available at 801.382.9027 Mondays through Thursdays during regular business hours. Voicemail received outside of hours of operation will be responded to promptly the next business day.

For questions, media inquiries, or to learn how to support the UIC, please reach out to Martha Drake Reeves, grants manager at the IRC in Salt Lake City, by email at MarthaDrake.Reeves [at] rescue.org.