June 11, 2019
The University YMCA’s New American Welcome Center (NAWC) announces it is now a Department of Justice recognized organization with approval for two of its staff members, Gloria Yen and Zoë Foote, to provide immigration legal representation for low-income and indigent residents in the Champaign-Urbana community. The New American Welcome Center will be able to provide three types of services to the immigrant community. Community outreach and education through the conduct of informational outreach clinics to educate immigrants and allies on current issues around immigration policy and law. Immigration relief screening of local residents for common forms of relief including citizenship, asylum, and temporary protected status (TPS). Legal service provision through the practice of limited immigration law, such as completing and filing petitions and applications, assisting with information collection, and tracking the status of pending immigration cases for clients.
The accreditation process included staff members dedicating over 500 hours to build their competency in immigration law through intensive coursework, trainings, shadowing, and hands-on experience at local clinics and workshops. Immigrant Services Coordinator Zoë Foote shares, “it’s been a long, challenging journey in so many ways. We’ve been working toward achieving this goal since October 2017. I’m so proud of us and so thankful to all the people that helped us make it to today. It’s such a privilege to work in this community with so many incredible people.”
Champaign County is home to nearly 24,000 immigrants of mixed status from 76 countries around the world. Access to affordable legal services in Champaign County is one of the greatest challenges facing our foreign-born population. For many, the inaccessibility of competent and affordable immigration legal services has been a challenge to family unity, safety, economic mobility, and educational opportunity. We are honored to address some of these needs through our Immigration Legal Services & Assistance (ILSA) program.
We are incredibly grateful to each of our indomitable supporters along the way. There are far more than we can name, but we would like to give a special shout out to: The Immigration Project, DePaul AILC, UIUC Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Senator Dick Durbin, Mayor Deb Feinen, Lauren Anaya, Matt Kuenning, and Ruth Wyman.