Tues 3/22/21 TLC featured during Virtual Town Hall on New Deal for New Americans Act
The Legal Clinic supports the #NewDealforNewAmericansAct. Tune in via Facebook on Tuesday 3/23 10am Hawaii/4pm Eastern time to learn more at this town hall co-hosted with National Partnership for New Americans and CHIRLA.
PUBLIC CHARGE ORDER REVERSED
March 9, 2021: The US Government informed the Supreme Court that it will no longer defend the public charge rule issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under the Trump Administration. DHS announced that it would restore the public charge policy described in the 1999 field guidance. This means that many eligible immigrants will be able to pursue legal status without fear of being disqualified due to the housing and health care programs they qualify for, including Medicaid and COVID care. The public charge test only applies to some programs and some immigrants. It never applies to U.S. citizens, including the children of immigrants. It also doesn’t apply to most people with a green card, or asylees, refugees, people with U visas, T visas, VAWA, and many others. A family member’s use of public programs cannot affect your future immigration applications. Testing, treatment, and preventative services for COVID-19 — including vaccines — are not part of public charge. Pandemic relief payments (stimulus checks) are also not part of public charge. The use of health, nutrition, and housing programs cannot be considered in the public charge test.
For more information and to check for updates, visit ILRC’s public charge page.
Thank you to all who participated in this benefit – we met our spring fundraising goal!
Sept. 29, 2020: USCIS Fee Increase Update: Judge blocks fee increase and elimination of fee waivers that was going to go into effect on October 2. However, the government will likely appeal the order and it may be overturned eventually. Individuals interested in applying for naturalization, please visit CitizenshipHawaii.org. For other immigration legal services, please contact The Legal Clinic.
- Please visit the this multilingual COVID19 resources page.
- Immigration Eligibility for Public Programs During COVID-19 (from Protecting Immigrant Families’ website).
- Center for Disease Control COVID19 info in many languages
Aug 2020 USCIS Update: The US Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS) Honolulu Application Support Center (ACS) reopened on July 27, 2020. If your appointment was cancelled due to its temporary closure, you should automatically receive a notice to reschedule your ASC appointment, or a notification of biometrics reuse. If you do not receive either within 90 days of ACS reopening, please call 800-375-5283. Please check the USCIS COVID19 Response page for more current updates.
In Support of a Permanent Solution for DACA Recipients and Dreamers
On June 18, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court rightly rejected the Trump administration’s attempt to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This marks an important victory for the more than 700,000 “Dreamers” – undocumented young adults who were brought to the United States as children – whom DACA has protected from deportation since its inception in 2012. An estimated 4,000 Dreamers live in Hawai‘i. “By shielding Dreamers from deportation and granting them permission to work, DACA gives Dreamers the opportunity to come out of the shadows and contribute more fully to the only country many of them have ever known,” said Corey Park, The Legal Clinic Board President. The Legal Clinic joins immigrant advocacy organizations in Hawai‘i and across the nation in calling on Congress to Congress to pass the American Dream and Promise Act and to put an end to the political games that the Trump administration is playing with the lives of an entire generation of young immigrants. Visit our Resources page for more info on DACA.
UPDATE IN RESPONSE TO CORONAVIRUS CONCERNS
9/8/20: WE ARE STILL SERVING CLIENTS! The Legal Clinic continues to schedule attorney appointments for clients who meet our low-income eligibility requirements. Most appointments are by phone until further notice. Staff are working remotely. Please call 808-777-7071 for immigration legal services!
For those requesting assistance with the citizenship application (N-400), please register at citizenshiphawaii.org or by calling 808-737-3330. While we are postponing the in-person workshops, we can help you complete the N-400 form!
#BLACK LIVES MATTER
Immigrants in Hawaiʻi and across the U.S. owe a debt of gratitude to the African American-led civil rights movement, which helped lead to the enactment of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act. This Act marked a break from the highly discriminatory and exclusionary immigration policies of the past, and enabled many more Africans, Asians, and others to immigrate lawfully to the U.S.
We at The Legal Clinic acknowledge that Black Americans are still routinely denied opportunity and security in our country. We join our partner organizations, faith leaders, and Black-led movements to demand the end to police brutality and the targeting of people of color. We call on our elected leaders to uphold our Constitution and to do the hard work of creating and implementing policies that will end systemic racism and injustice in our nation. #BlackLivesMatter.
Please consider supporting Black-led organizations such as:
- Black Alliance for Just Immigration/BAJI (national)
- Black Lives Matter
- George Floyd Memorial Fund (national)
- Honolulu Hawaii NAACP
- The Popolo Project (Honolulu)
HARD TIMES FOR IMMIGRANTS
Everyone’s lives have been thoroughly upended by COVID-19, and low-income immigrants are especially susceptible. TLC attorney Esther Yoo and Medical-Legal Partnership for Children attorney Catherine Chen published an opinion piece in Civil Beat that brings these concerns to light. TLC’s partner UNITE HERE Local 5 represents 12,000 immigrant hospitality and healthcare workers in Hawaiʻi. They report that over 10,000 of their members are now unemployed, while the remaining 2,000 are in risky jobs as frontline healthcare and airport workers. Meanwhile, the US Department of Education has announced that DACA recipients (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) will be excluded from any of the $6 billion CARES Act funding designated for student assistance.
Nov 4, 2019 – Honolulu Mayor Announces Cities for Citizenship Partnership with The Legal Clinic and UNITE HERE Local 5
Honolulu is one of the latest cities to join the national Cities for Citizenship initiative, to encourage tens of thousands of green card holders to apply for naturalized U.S. citizenship. @citiesforcitizenship.com #C4C #CitiesforCitizenship #Naturalization
Nov. 2, 2019 Citizenship Workshop at St. Joseph Church in Waipahu
Oct. 24, 2019 “STAND UP FOR IMMIGRANT JUSTICE PAU HANA” FUNDRAISER
Thanks to all who attended or supported our first annual fall fundraising event, at the beautiful Cafe Julia in downtown Honolulu. Proceeds are supporting immigration legal services for low-income immigrants in Hawaii. Photos are posted here. More photos in Midweek. Photography by Mark Salondaka.
And the Liberty Bell Award Goes To…
Oct. 11, 2019 – The Young Leaders Division (YLD) of Hawai‘i State Bar Association awarded the 2019 Liberty Bell award to The Legal Clinic! The Liberty Bell award recognizes a non-lawyer who, or organization that, has made significant efforts to promote and foster a better understanding, appreciation, and respect of government, the legal system, and the role of law in our society.
YLD President Summer Kaiawe, TLC board member Lowell Chun-Hoon, and Hawai‘i State Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald at the Hawai‘i State Bar Association annual luncheon.
TLC open house in honor of Citizenship Day, Sept. 17th!
On Sept. 17, 2019 The Legal Clinic hosted an informal open house for community service providers, faith leaders, and others to learn more about our FREE or low-cost services: one-on-one immigration legal consultation/representation, community outreach, and advocacy.
August 2019: Public Charge Rule Harmful to Immigrant Working Class Families in Hawai‘i
The Trump administration recently announced its latest and most far-reaching attack on legal immigrants in the United States. Under existing law, those who are deemed “public charges” cannot attain permanent resident status. The Trump administration is greatly expanding the public charge rule to make it far more difficult for working class immigrants to become permanent residents. The new rule will take effect on October 15, 2019, unless efforts to fight it – in the courts or Congress – succeed.
The new rule would broaden the definition of the xenophobic term “public charge,” which was first enacted into law at around the same time the Chinese Exclusion Act was adopted and which was also used to turn away Jewish refugees during World War II. Under the prior rule, a public charge was someone who was likely to primarily depend on the government for subsistence, i.e., receiving cash benefits for income maintenance or long-term medical care at government expense. Under the new definition, a public charge is someone who is likely to receive one or more benefits from an expanded list – which now includes SNAP or food stamps, public housing or Section 8 housing vouchers and rental assistance, and Medicaid (with exceptions for emergency medical conditions, children under 21, and pregnant women) – even for a short period of time.
Many lawful, working immigrants in Hawai‘i could be denied legal permanent residence simply because they are not wealthy. In a state where 48% of the general population is a single paycheck away from being houseless and one in five residents is an immigrant, the new rule have devastating effects. Families are likely to forgo food, housing, medical assistance and other necessary services for fear of jeopardizing their status. The rule could also dramatically undercut the state’s ability to attract foreign workers in many of the industries that are critical to Hawai‘i’s economic prosperity, such as healthcare and tourism.
In fact, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute, the new rule could impact as many as 110,000 families in Hawai‘i and cost the islands more than $127 million dollars. “If it goes into effect, this sweeping and misguided policy will harm families and our local economy,” says Bettina Mok, Executive Director of The Legal Clinic (TLC) in Honolulu.
Not all immigrants are subject to the rule. For example, the public charge rule does not apply to lawful permanent residents applying for citizenship, asylees and refugees, VAWA self-petitioners, U and T visa holders, Special Immigrant Juveniles, and certain other categories of non-citizens. And benefits used by U.S. citizen family members and those not applying for a green card do not count. TLC encourages those concerned by the rule to seek the advice of an immigration attorney or organization before disenrolling from any benefit.
TLC also urges Hawai‘i residents to ask their Congressional Representatives to support H.R. 3222, which would defund the public charge rule. “Hawai‘i immigrants have made major positive contributions to our state. We must continue demonstrating leadership on immigrant justice issues and resist inhumane policies that tear families apart,” says TLC Board Chair Rev. Amy Wake.
For more information, including developments in the litigation efforts to prevent the new rule from taking effect in October, visit http://www.protectingimmigrantfamilies.org.
A New Office Opens – 2019
On June 20th, 2019, “World Refugee Day,” The Legal Clinic held a soft opening of its new office space at the First United Methodist Church of Honolulu. Invited guests included founding board members, and other early supporters–donors, grantmakers, volunteers and partners. Legal services will begin in September, when our staff attorney is on board. Between now and then we are assisting with Know Your Rights efforts in the community for COFA citizens and immigrants, as well as US citizenship workshops for green card holders. We are gearing up for escalating demands ahead, and are so grateful to our supporters, past, present, and future!