Refugee Assistance Program
Under subcontract with the Florida Department of Children and Families, CLS provides a spectrum of legal services to refugees, asylees, and Cuban/Haitian entrants who meet federal service criteria. This includes, but is not limited to, helping refugees/asylees/entrants gain legal permanent residence and reunite with their children living abroad.
We represent unaccompanied children who have escaped rape, gang violence, abuse, and death threats in their home countries and are now facing immigration proceedings in the United States. Many of the children qualify for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (“SIJS”), which requires a state court to recognize that they were abandoned, abused and/or neglected, as well as asylum due to the persecution they endured and their fear to return to their home country.
CLS leads the South Florida New Americans Campaign, which provides naturalization services to qualified legal permanent residents (LPRs). The SF NAC is among the most successful in the nation. In addition, CLS collaborates with Miami-Dade Public Schools, providing legal naturalization services in their Fast Track citizenship program. Under the guidance of CLS staff, our naturalization computer lab has assisted more LPRs in completing N-400s than any other in the nation, and we have helped our NAC partners at Miami-Dade schools use their computer labs for naturalization.
Young Women with Children
Many of the young mothers who flee the same violence and abuse faced by UCs bring babies and young children with them from Central America. We help these families gain legal rights to be here and access to the social, health, and educational services they need for family stability, and social integrity. CLS has the only Florida program staffed with a full-time attorney assisting mothers with children. CLS also recruits pro bono attorneys and provides information on low-cost attorneys in the community.
New American Defenders/Legal Orientation Programs
CLS provides legal orientation services to undocumented individuals, unrepresented adults, as well as detained immigrants in South Florida’s two major detention centers, Broward and Krome. These services include Know Your Rights group presentations, individual legal orientations, and pro se workshops focused on areas of special detainee need. In pro se workshops, CLS attorneys provide forms by which immigrants can seek relief, explain the meanings of questions asked, describe the types of documentation required, prepare translations, and answer detainees’ questions without representing participants.The complementary New American Defenders program now will provide representation for immigrants with US citizen family members.