PLAN seeks to provide free legal representation to low-income, non-detained immigrants with cases in the jurisdiction of the Phoenix Immigration Court. Although immigration cases can lead to the deprivation of freedom and liberty, there is no right to an attorney for a person in immigration proceedings like there is for a person facing criminal charges; there are no public defenders in immigration law. Due to the complex nature of the law and the courts, individuals represented by an attorney are six times as likely to succeed in their cases as someone without an attorney. Simply put, having a lawyer usually makes the difference between succeeding or not. PLAN considers these disparate outcomes and lack of access to legal representation fundamentally unjust. In partnership with the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project, PLAN provided 116 individuals with free legal representation, and over 200 free consultations in 2018 and 2019. PLAN anticipates hiring an immigration attorney directly in 2020.
PLAN knows that individuals and families facing immigration proceedings often need more help than a lawyer can provide. PLAN seeks to assist our clients with a person-centered, trauma-informed, holistic approach to meeting their various needs. The challenging circumstances that often accompany a person's immigration case may also be improved by receiving counseling, job training, medical care, housing assistance, resources for children's well-being, or other supportive services which are often inaccessible to immigrants. Whether by referral to collaborating service providers, or through direct service from PLAN staff and volunteers, PLAN's vision for serving the immigrant community of Arizona includes comprehensive social services in addition to legal representation.
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT & EDUCATION
PLAN engages the community in Arizona in the advancement of justice for immigrants by providing professional development opportunities for attorneys and other professionals, educational workshops and legal clinics for the public, and by collaborating with local organizations whose work aligns with our mission. Past community engagement and education activities have included:
U VISAS WORKSHOPS
The U visa is a nonimmigrant visa for victims of certain crimes, and their immediate family members, who have suffered mental or physical abuse while in the United States, and who are willing to assist law enforcement in the prosecution of those crimes. PLAN offers this workshop to professionals and community members to explain eligibility requirements, processes, commonly encountered issues, and best practices for pursuing this type of visa.
COMMUNITY ASYLUM WORKSHOP
Seeking asylum from persecution is an internationally recognized human right. The United States' policies and practices for receiving refugees and asylum-seekers have changed dramatically in recent years. This workshop offers an overview of the right to seek asylum and its current standing in the US.
ANNUAL PLAN COMMUNITY LUNCH & LEARN
A professional development and networking opportunity for PLAN members, partners, and community organizations to meet, share their work, and identify opportunities for collaboration.
PLAN DISCUSSION PANELS
PLAN attorneys, partners, and supporters discuss current events for the education of the community. Topics have included Arizona's legislative sessions and No More Deaths, regarding federal convictions for providing humanitarian assistance to migrants.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS WORKSHOPS
Regardless of one's immigration status, we all need to know our rights when dealing with law enforcement or immigration officers. This workshop explains the extent and limits on law enforcement's and immigration officials' authority, preventive measures we can all take to protect ourselves, and how to handle a situation should you find yourself in an encounter with authorities.