Nonprofit aims to provide loans for immigrants who need attorneys
For Roswell immigration attorney Ayesha Chidolue, navigating the court system with her clients is constant active learning.
“Immigration is something that’s used as a political tool,” she said. “A lot of the time, this might be the rule when a client hires you. By the time you’re ready to submit their application, you realize, ‘Oh, my gosh, the rules have changed.’”
And many people trying to immigrate to the U.S. go into this process alone, even though research shows having a lawyer is often a key factor that moves an immigration case through the courts successfully.
“We deliver a lot of humanitarian-based cases. We do a lot of domestic violence. For a lot of people, they’re in these situations or these relationships because they cannot get out because of the financial situation,” she said.
While hiring an immigration attorney is often prohibitive, it is usually the one thing that makes a difference in a successful immigration case.
Data from the American Immigration Council show that non-detained immigrants with attorneys are five times more likely to win their cases compared to immigrants without attorneys.
Metro Atlanta has a handful of groups that provide pro bono or low-cost legal help for immigrants and asylum seekers. And a different kind of nonprofit – Capital Good Fund – provides low-interest loans specifically to hire an immigration attorney.
“There are a lot of people that go to an attorney that just don’t proceed because they can’t afford,” said Andy Posner, founder of Capital Good Fund. “Then, there are even more people who don’t even go to the attorney to begin with.”
The loans don’t require collateral, there are no fees, and rates range from about 7 to 16%.
The nonprofit partners with the American Immigration Lawyers Association to connect immigrants to these loans. The Community Foundation for greater Atlanta recently gave a $500,000 loan to the nonprofit as well.