UNLV Immigration Clinic seeks state funding to continue free services

For people hoping to make America home, the process can be complicated and costly.
Published: Apr. 13, 2023 at 12:39 AM PDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - For people hoping to make America home, the process can be complicated and costly.

That’s why UNLV’s Immigration Clinic offers free services to people navigating the process and pro-bono representation for those fighting deportation cases.

“You’re not entitled to an attorney if you can’t afford one, unlike criminal court. And to navigate court, in general, is difficult by yourself, but especially immigration court because it’s so complex,” said Alissa Cooley, managing attorney for the Immigration Clinic’s Community Advocacy Office.

In 2022, the Immigration Clinic defended 206 clients facing deportation, and helped more than 60 people renew their DACA permits. A third of the clinic’s clients were children, as young as three years old.

And with a fast-growing immigrant population in Nevada, demand for the Immigration Clinic’s services is growing, too.

“Especially here in Clark County,” said Cooley. “Just this year, we’ve had over 100 people call from detention needing representation, we’ve had over 30 people call for unaccompanied children representation, and that’s on top of the waitlist that we’ve already had.”

To keep these services going and shorten the waitlist, the Immigration Clinic is asking for more funding from the state, through a bill that would grant the clinic one million dollars over the next two years.

Cooley said the clinic would use the money to use to hire another attorney and support their long list of clients.

William Rosales is a former client, who came to Nevada from El Salvador when he was 13. He said a friend referred him to the immigration clinic, and it changed his life.

“He was the very first Justice AmeriCorps client, our very first unaccompanied child client, and the total length of that case was 8 years,” said Cooley.

Now at 23 years old, William has finally reached residency status, with advocates from the immigration clinic by his side throughout the process.

“I appreciate all the help that they did throughout all these years,” he said, “and they come with me on my heart every single time.”

If passed, Assembly Bill 328 would go into effect July 1, allocating one millions dollars over the next two years from the state’s general fund to the UNLV Immigration Clinic.