Finally! After months of planning, we held our first mass pro se deferred action legal clinic for farmworkers in North Carolina this past Sunday.
Ever since the Deferred Action for Labor Disputes process was announced in January of this year we knew this could be a game-changer for workers unable to speak out against abuse for fear of losing their job, their income and their immigration status. Over the past few months, we have been working alongside allied organizations and law school clinics to develop and pilot a model clinic, legal infrastructure, and resources that would allow us to provide the support workers need to access this immigration relief.
And I’m happy to report that it was a very successful event thanks to our wonderful and committed partners: Duke University Immigrant Rights’ Clinic, It’s Our Future (El Futuro Es Nuestro), NC FIELD, NC Justice Center, Mexican Consulate, St Ann’s Catholic Church, among others. We’re inspired by the courage of the farmworkers who braved the wrath of their employers, who had prohibited their attendance, in order to assert their rights, organize and seek justice.
Digital and in-person outreach was key to the clinic’s success: we were able to reach out to over 800 workers in person and over 5000 online. Thanks to these efforts, more than 80 farmworkers on H-2A visas attended the clinic, despite all of the obstacles they faced to get there!
CDM, alongside NC Justice Center and Duke School of Law, co-led the legal team conducting screenings, conducting trainings with workers, and reviewing deferred action application packets while NC FIELD and It’s Our Future helped farmworkers apply for the $600 payments from the Farm and Food Workers Relief Program (FFWR). The Mexican Consulate in North Carolina also provided orientation and consular support.
Thanks to an amazing collaboration, by the end of the clinic our organizations had supported 13 workers in completing (and mailing!) their deferred action applications, as well as 68 farmworkers in applying for their FFWR $600 payments.
There is nothing like advancing migrant justice alongside committed partners and brave workers!
We learned a lot from the clinic and from each other. Now that we have developed and tested this clinic collaborative model and created the necessary legal resources, we are excited to adapt it, scale it and replicate it, so that more workers can benefit from deferred action.
Will you support migrant and immigrant workers facing abuse right to immigration relief and justice?