Immigration law is complex, confusing, and always changing. We see this most acutely in Immigration Court when non-citizens are unrepresented. (Even people facing deportation only have a right to a lawyer if they can afford one!) We are committed to helping as many Michiganders as possible navigate these laws and systems. To do so, we, along with our partners at the Vera Institute of Justice, launched the Immigration Court Helpdesk (Helpdesk) program in December 2021 to assist unrepresented non-citizens in removal proceedings better understand their rights, the law, and overall, what to expect moving forward.
Staff from our Helpdesk team are at the Detroit Immigration Court almost every day to answer questions, provide orientations, make referrals, and offer self-help services to unrepresented non-citizens. Services are also available outside the courtroom via phone, video, and at MIRC’s offices.
The Helpdesk team provides detailed, tailored legal information and orientation services; classroom-style workshops on asylum and related topics; pro bono referrals and placements; friend of court services; and assistance with completing certain forms and motions. While the Helpdesk team is unable to provide direct representation or legal advice, its array of ever-expanding services and tailored legal information educates and empowers noncitizens to better represent themselves and/or be more informed consumers of private legal services.