Ask an Immigration Lawyer: How Can I Help Immigrants if I’m Not a Lawyer?

Art by Alan López for Remezcla

It’s a frightening time for immigrants. Although previous presidents have deported immigrants in large numbers, many – especially those without criminal records – felt a relative sense of normalcy. But with an administration that is outwardly hostile toward immigrant populations, any comfort previously felt is gone. As Donald Trump attempts to tighten immigration laws and cut down on even legal forms of migration into the United States, it can be difficult to keep up with the changing landscape.

That’s why we have launched the Ask an Immigration Lawyer column. Twice a month, Nubia Willman – a Chicago-based immigration attorney with nearly decade of experience – answers your questions about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and more. This column is not meant to be construed as legal advice. You should not act upon any information provided without seeking the advice of an attorney licensed to practice law in your state. 

Submit a question here and check out previous columns here.

Dear Nubia: What are ways to help those affected by immigration without having to obtain a JD?

–LA Native

Dear Los Angeleno: This is such a great question because while it is always recommended that someone filing an immigration application be assessed and represented by an attorney, it does not mean that only an attorney can help immigrants.

Immigrant communities benefit so much from different forms of advocacy. For example, you can volunteer to translate if you have a language skill. Currently, there’s an overwhelming need for Indigenous languages in immigration court. You can share correct data (from verified sources) to help combat misinformation and fear of immigrants on social media. You can join and support advocacy groups in your area working on making cities safer and more welcoming to immigrants. If you’re a college graduate, you can ask your alma mater ways that they are helping undocumented students.

Finally, if you want to represent immigrants without going to law school you can consider becoming an accredited representative that allows a non-attorney to file some immigration petitions for others under the supervision of a charitable organization. The theme here is that immigrants need people who are willing to provide support, advocacy, and resources to help them resettle and stabilize in the US. None of those things are mutually exclusive to attorneys and there are many ways to use your skills and time to help others.


Disclaimer: The information on this column is not legal advice. Legal information is not the same as legal advice, which is the application of law to an individual’s specific circumstances. The information provided in this column is not a substitute for and does not replace the advice or representation of a licensed attorney. Although Remezcla goes to great lengths to make sure the information on the column is accurate and up to date, we make no claim as to the accuracy of this information and are not responsible for any consequences that may result from the use of this column.

We recommend that you consult with a licensed attorney if you want assurance that the information on the Remezcla and your interpretation of it are appropriate for your particular situation. You should not and are not authorized to rely on this column as a source of legal advice. The use of this column does not create an attorney-client relationship between Remezcla, its agents, and any user.