The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., or CLINIC, is probably the most influential Catholic organization that you have never heard of. CLINIC is a loose network of more than 330 organizations that provide legal services to immigrants and refugees. One hundred sixty eight of the 177 Catholic Charities agencies in the U.S. have some level of legal assistance for migrants and refugees. Nearly all of them are members of CLINIC, plus many independent groups and groups from other denominations.
CLINIC is part of our church’s effort to fulfill the gospel mandate to “welcome the stranger” (Matthew 25:35). It trains lawyers and “accredited representatives” (a sort of super paralegal) to represent refugees and immigrants in immigration courts and proceedings. It also offers some direct representation to people who are appealing their cases in immigration courts or to federal courts.
It is a lifeline for people fleeing persecution, war and poverty or simply trying to keep their families together. Immigration law is bewildering even to American lawyers who speak English. It is impenetrable to immigrants, who are often very poor and struggling to navigate a complex legal system in a foreign language.
CLINIC started 30 years ago, founded by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Its spiritual father was Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn.
CLINIC does a lot of advocacy work on immigration issues with government agencies and public officials. Recently it has been working to help holders of temporary protected status (TPS) visas. The Trump administration has announced its intention to end protected status for most holders, a decision that affects hundreds of thousands of people from such countries like El Salvador, Haiti, Syria, Nicaragua and Nepal among others. The decision in effect makes legal immigrants into illegal ones and gives them a deadline to depart the country. Many protected status holders have been here for as much as 20 years and have put down deep roots with families, homes and businesses.
CLINIC connects migrants and refugees with lawyers to represent them in cases before the Board of Immigration Appeals, a nationwide appeals court for immigration matters. These are often complicated cases, taking many years.
Pope Francis has frequently said that a Christian should build bridges, not walls, between peoples. That is what CLINIC does. It is a reminder that we are Catholic. That is, that our church and our concerns crosses borders and cultures. God did not draw these borders between nations.
To read the complete article: https://www.ncronline.org/news/justice/parish-diary/clinic-lifeline-immigrants-and-refugees