SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. A new center for immigrant legal services has made its way to the City of Scottsbluff.
They are called Immigrant Legal Center and they provide legal services for immigrant needs and presentations to welcome them into the community.
They break their petitions down into two categories. They are family based and humanitarian based.
Family based petitions focus on bringing families together. It would include a family member looking to make their way to the United States to live from another country.
Humanitarian based petitions focus on victims of crime, trafficking and children that are abused, abandoned or neglected.
There are eight firms scattered across Nebraska and Iowa. They are in Columbus, Crete, Grand Island, Lexington, Nebraska City, South Sioux City, Omaha and Council Bluffs, Iowa.
“Every time I talk to somebody and we ask to set up a consult, the reaction is you are here in Scottsbluff,” expressed Chabelly Gurrola, Rural Capacity Building Paralegal. “I think that just shows they are expecting someone from Omaha or Lincoln or far away so it’s great to be able to be here.”
The closest immigration services to the Panhandle is in Lexington which is three to three and a half hours away.
“The closest immigration services for Nebraska is on the other side of the state,” said Brian Edwards, Rural Capacity Building Attorney. “We saw a need out here and we decided that we needed to open an office out here.”
Out of all eight firms, they manage a total of 3,000 cases since 2017.
In Scottsbluff alone since they opened in August of 2018 and started case work in October, they have handled 20 cases.
They say having four to five a month is a steady trend.
They even have a waiting list that is expected to grow.
“To have 20 plus cases by now is a great sign for us,” said Edwards. “It shows that there is progress and we are growing.”
70% of the overall clients are children.
“I’ve grown up here and I went to college here and it’s always been a service that has been lacking in our community,” explained Gurrola. “It’s great to be a part of what I like to call movement here in Scottsbluff.”
They say the biggest challenges they face is getting the word out.
They work with immigrants that are below or at 150% of the federal poverty guideline.
Their services are in English and Spanish and highly confidential.
If you need services, they say to first call the Nebraska Immigration Legal Assistance Hotline at 1- (855) 307-6730 to see if you are eligible for their services.
Immigrant Legal Center is open Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 4:30pm. They are flexible if need be.
They are located at 615 S Beltline Hwy W in Scottsbluff.