Find My Ally
With intense nationwide discussions over border policies, many immigrants have crossed over to the United States in droves. Meanwhile, California is doing its part to help assimilate undocumented immigrants into society. California started the Dream Act to provide legal protections, and the website Find My Ally offers legal lifelines for some 50,000-70,000 undocumented community college students.
“This is a faster way to provide immigration with relief options, as going through the attorneys and immigration can take months to years at a time. With us, we can provide help as soon as all the documents are submitted,” Alonso Garcia, senior program manager, Equity Foundation for California Community Colleges, said as he explained the program.
Find Your Ally –offered through the Higher Education Legal Services Project–is an unprecedented state-funded effort to provide all students enrolled in the CA Community Colleges and their families with free immigration legal assistance, which includes an opportunity to have their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) fees covered. Students qualify whether they are full time, part time, taking credit or non-credit courses, those with dual enrollment, and adult education courses.
Manoj Govindaiah, managing attorney at Immigrant Legal Defense, advocates for the Find Your Ally service as it provides faster and more equitable services to immigrants looking for help. “In my 17 years of providing legal services, there are two major obstacles that immigrants have to overcome, accessing legal services, and logistical obstacles of reaching that lawyer,” Govindaiah said as he explained why it's hard for immigrants to get the proper documents and services they need on time.” This program is great because we are going on campus and giving the kids access to our services, so they don't have to worry about finding or coming to us.”
The project comes filled with 10 legal services and various attorneys helping students at 34 colleges across California. They provide virtual and in-person assistance depending on your college. Some of the services provided on the legal side include: Legal consultations to screen for immigration relief, DACA renewals, Family-based petitions, Naturalization/Citizenship applications, and Advance Parole. Informational webinars are available for educational purposes. Lastly, alternative services include: avoiding fraudulent legal services, Know Your Rights presentations, Family Preparedness/Childcare Safety Plans, and Public charge information.
For more information and to see if your school is eligible for the program; visit findmyally.com.