Cedar-Riverside legal clinic aims to provide support for immigrants

Though only a few people showed up to the first clinic, organizers are planning to continue into March.

Raju Chaduvula

Immigration lawyers and volunteers set up a clinic to help Cedar-Riverside residents traverse the now uncertain status of immigrants and refugees in the U.S.

But the clinic on Wednesday at the Brian Coyle Center only saw a few takers, something the organizers attribute to poor planning rather than a lack of interest.

Amano Dube, director of Brian Coyle, said the clinics, which will continue weekly for the next five weeks, are intended to answer questions residents have about President Donald Trump’s travel ban and the subsequent court order preventing its enforcement.

The clinics began a week after the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court denied to reinstate the ban after the Trump administration’s appeal.

Still, Dube said residents of the Cedar-Riverside community are worried because many travel to Somalia for business or to visit family.

Dube said most confusion surrounds delayed family reunions and how the ban affects those who are green card holders.

“Things are changing so quickly … there’s great confusion and frustration,” Dube said.

To ease the confusion, the clinic had two lawyers from Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid and the Immigrant Law Center who were offering pro bono service and advice.

Greger Calhan, a lawyer with Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, said they expected more people to show up, but the clinic was only finalized a few days prior.

University of Minnesota global studies students Mohamed Ibrahim and Meron Ayele also provided help at Wednesday’s clinic.

Ibrahim — who is from Somalia and has family in Cedar-Riverside — said he’s interning with the Immigrant Law Center to help translate for the clinic’s lawyers.

Ibrahim said he will be travelling to Somalia over the summer and worries he might not be allowed back in the U.S., despite being a citizen.

“Hopefully I will be able to be back to the country I call home,” he said.

Ayele said she’s helping with the clinic because she believes it’s important to empathize with immigrants who are having difficulty trying to acclimate to their new home.

“Being an immigrant … it’s important to support other immigrants,” Ayele said, adding that immigrants build communities that are an integral part of the city.

Dube said the center will do more to promote the clinics in the coming week.