Three times a week, we are in different communities around the Detroit area to set up shop and help people.
What kind of legal issues do you work on?
We work on any issues that people bring to us. Ideally, these are legal in nature, but it really runs the gamut. More than anything else, for us to see clients means acting as a problem solver. We work with clients to define their issue and then work with them on finding a solution.
Who can come to the clinic?
We work with anyone who comes to us, looking for help. We don’t ask about income level, immigration status or country of origin, just your name and how we can help.
I tell our new volunteers that you never know what we’ll be working on from one client to the next. This is just a sample of people who came through the clinic this week:
- A man who was still paying child support for a child who had turned 18 six months ago.
- A legal permanent resident originally from Mexico who was seeking to establish paternity so that he could bring his son to live with him in Detroit.
- An amateur land developer trying to improve his neighborhood who has been improperly grouped into a class by the city. The city is suing him for $1.2 million in damages.
- An asylum seeker who has reached the time when she can apply for a work permit.
There were many more. Some of these we can help. Sometimes we have to deliver harder news, that there is nothing we can do under the law.
We Create Possibilities
The truth is that we do almost everything at the legal clinics. Our clients come to us with burdens. From the outside, some issue looks like small matters. These burdens are never trivial to the people bearing them. We don’t take their responsibilities away; instead, we come alongside them.
Where before there was only the certainty of being crushed, we help our clients see other possibilities.
The Southwest Detroit Immigrant and Refugee Center provides free and low-cost legal services to underserved communities in the Detroit area, with a focus on recent immigrants and refugees.
We were founded in 2014 by Kevin Piecuch, our Executive Director and principal attorney, to help meet the great need for quality legal services in underserved communities. We believe that everyone deserves justice regardless of your country of origin, the color of your skin, or your ability to afford an attorney.