Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid Helps Ensure Immigrants’ Rights

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Starting this month, immigrant community members will be reminded of their rights in all Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) squad cars. Thanks to the hard work and effective advocacy of attorneys at Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, printed placards explaining an immigrant’s right to remain silent about their place of birth, and immigration status, along with other applicable rights, have been placed on the back seat of MPD squads in both English and Spanish. Staff attorneys Alison Olson Cox and Laura Wilson worked closely with the Minneapolis City Attorney’s Office on the placard language. Cox was also a strong advocate for the city to take ownership of the placard and the recitation of immigrant rights. 

Read more about the placards in the Star Tribune.

Legal Services For Immigrants Strengthened by Landmark Gift to U of M Law School

On February 6th, the University of Minnesota Law School announced a transformational $25 million gift from the Robina Foundation. The grant—the single largest philanthropic gift in the Law School’s history—will fund the newly named James H. Binger Center for New Americans, establish a James H. Binger Professorship in Clinical Law, and provide Law School student scholarship support.

The gift will provide permanent financial support to the University of Minnesota Law School for the ongoing operations of the James H. Binger Center for New Americans. The Center brings about transformative change by creating a national model for the provision of comprehensive and cohesive legal services for immigrant communities through a variety of means, including improving federal immigration law and policy through impact litigation; protecting detainee rights and improving access to legal representation for refugees and immigrants; educating noncitizens about their legal rights; creating dynamic and comprehensive immigration clinics for students; and collaborating with others on immigration issues. During its four-year pilot program—supported by the Robina Foundation—the Center won a landmark case at the U.S. Supreme Court; won political asylum for clients from around the world; and won release for detained immigrants in Minnesota.

The Center has three law firm partners—Dorsey and Whitney, Faegre Baker Daniels, and Robins Kaplan—and three nonprofit partners—the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, and The Advocates for Human Rights.

Founding partners Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid have worked with the Center for the past three years with a specific emphasis on the Center’s detainee rights work. Dean Garry W. Jenkins said, “The Binger Center will leverage a unique collaboration among our clinics, prominent law firms, and respected nonprofit organizations, enabling our exceptional faculty and students to continue to work on landmark immigration reform cases for generations to come.” Read more in the Star Tribune.

MMLA Attorney Named "Up & Coming" by Minnesota Lawyer

Every year Minnesota Lawyer magazine recognizes a group of attorneys within their first 10 years of practice who have already distinguished themselves by their achievements. Among them is Rebecca Scholtz, staff attorney with Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid (MMLA).

“I was interested in immigration issues even before law school,” recalled Scholtz, who also worked with migrant children in the Peace Corps. “This was my dream job. I’m lucky in that I get to do both direct representation and broader work.”

Scholtz and her fellow awardees were honored at a Sept. 8th luncheon at the Hyatt Regency in Minneapolis. Read more about her at Minnesota Lawyer.

Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid and U of M Center for New Americans Help Asylum Seekers

Last week, law students and staff from the U of M's Center for New Americans (CNA), along with attorneys from Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, and Faegre Baker Daniels, won stays of removal for asylum seekers caught up in surprise ICE deportation raids in Minnesota. The raids occurred around the country. The CNA team's efforts prevented the deportation of 12 families to countries where they faced immediate harm.

The student arm of the team was supervised by Rebecca Scholtz, staff attorney with Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid and adjunct professor at the CNA, along with CNA teaching fellow Katherine Evans. Attorneys from Faegre Baker Daniels included Dianne Heins, pro bono counsel, as well as Lariss Maldonado and Sari Long.  Read the full story on the U of M's website.

National media coverage of the ICE raids can be found in the New York Times and the Washington Post