Since the beginning of the year, there has been a growing fear among immigrant communities of risk of deportation due to the priorities of the new administration, more aggressive ICE activity and overall increased cultural hostility. In response, on June 8th and 22nd, we held our first POA Clinics—pro bono immigration legal clinics, to create powers of attorneys for low-income people at risk of being detained or deported in Columbia. Clients had the option to create powers of attorney documents for their children as well as their financial assets.
There are approximately 231,278 immigrants in South Carolina with about 6.7% being Latino or Asian, according to the American Immigration Council. We wanted to meet an underserved need for legal documents that would protect children and property in worst-case scenarios, giving undocumented immigrants some peace of mind.
Between the two clinics, we served a total of 43 community members. We were also able to suggest other legal resources like references to family law attorneys and applying for US passports for US born children. When each client left, they had their power of attorney documents and resources for developing a long term family plan to keep their family as safe as possible.
During both clinics, we had tremendous support from the community. We are very thankful to our pro-bono attorneys who participated in the clinics! We are also especially thankful for Nelly Jolley from Richland School District 2, who helped facilitate the event and secure the space, Mayte Velasco from Richland Library for tech support, and all of our volunteer interpreters, who ensured communication was clear between clients and attorneys. See below for a complete list of pro bono attorneys, interpreters and other volunteers.
We know this work is not finished, and we have already heard from attorneys in other parts of the state who are planning to organize similar clinics to help meet this vital need for some of the most at-risk members of our communities.
Attorneys, law firms, or organizations interested in supporting future clinics can contact Tammy Besherse at [email protected] or 803-779-1113×103. Additionally, please let us know if you have interest in hosting a future power of attorney clinic!
Special Thanks to all of our clinic volunteers!
Pro bono Attorneys
Interpreters & Volunteers
Coca del Castillo
Mayte Velasco Nicolas
Jair Ararat Villegas
Rosa Otero Creech