The AIDS Legal Services Project Stands by HIV+ Immigrants Every Step of the Way - Thanks to the Dedication of our Pro Bono Immigration Panel
"There are many immigrants in Los Angeles who are living with HIV and AIDS. Some are new arrivals, often fleeing persecution in their home countries. Others have lived here for a long time and contracted HIV in the U.S. To assist HIV+ immigrants gain legal status, the ALSP and LA HLPP coordinate regular clinics in the Pico Union area staffed by experienced pro bono attorneys. We want to thank them for the invaluable assistance they are providing:
In addition to legal clinics, the ALSP also coordinates full-scope pro bono legal representation.
Here are just a few of our recent success stories.
Brian Schield, Principal, Jackson Lewis PC, currently has no less than six open pro bono immigration matters referred from the ALSP. His most recent success story was gaining legal permanent residency for IE. When IE was 32 years old, she left her native Guatemala AND her young daughter, to respond to a summons from her husband who had come to the U.S. seeking medical treatment. It turned out he was HIV+ and transmitted the virus to his wife. When she arrived in the U.S. to help take care of him, he was living with a new boyfriend and his sister. All three became physically abusive to IE. But with no money and nowhere to go, IE stayed until SHE was arrested on false charges from her sister-in-law and wound up in removal proceedings.
A social worker stepped up to help and referred IE to the ALSP. In 2010, the ALSP referred her to a pro bono attorney at Latham who filed a U visa application and defended against IE's removal in court. Two years later, Latham successfully resolved the client’s U visa but kept the file open to help IE’s daughter with a derivative application. IE's journey to Green Card status continued and in 2015, IE became eligible to adjust her status to Legal Permanent Residency. But the ALSP had difficulty tracking her down which became more dire since IE had a limited amount of time to file an application or forever lose her chance to adjust status. In IE's case, it really took a village to help. With assistance from Public Counsel's dedicated immigration attorneys, IE was found, prepped and referred once again to the ALSP, which like many times before, turned to stalwart volunteer attorney, Brian Schield. With a deadline looming, Brian and his team assembled a last minute application. Six months later IE became a Legal Permanent Resident and will soon be reunited with her daughter.
It took 13 years, but Ally Bolour, sole practitioner, made sure LN became a proud U.S. citizen last year. In 1989, LN fled El Salvador with his mother and sisters. While the rest of his family became U.S. citizens, LN’s petition stalled and was later denied, when he tested HIV+. Still hoping to legalize his status, 13 years ago, the AIDS Legal Services Project referred LN to volunteer attorney Ally Bolour.
In Ally’s usual and very thorough way, he proceeded on three separate fronts to try and get the client immigration relief. In the end, Ally had to start over and file a new family unification petition with LN’s mother when LN’s NACARA application was denied and they couldn’t come up with any proof that a family petition had already been filed many years ago. It then took many years for LN’s visa to become current but Ally kept the file open and monitored the progress. When the time finally came, Ally filed LN’s adjustment application so he could become a Legal Permanent Resident, and then later filed his naturalization application when LN became eligible. It is very difficult to navigate the US immigration system, and without a patient, skilled advocate, it can be nearly impossible to legalize status, particularly if you don’t have the resources to retain an attorney. The ALSP and LN are grateful for Ally's service and dedication.
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With the help of highly motivated pro bono attorneys who have been with the project since its inception, ALSP has established a reputation for handling some of the most sophisticated legal issues including asylum based on HIV status, employment discrimination, COBRA and ERISA and housing foreclosures.
The ALSP focuses on core HIV-related legal services:
If you have questions, please call Laurie Aronoff, ALSP Project Director at (213) 833-6776.
For people in need of assistance, please call our new collaborative partner, the Los Angeles HIV Law & Policy Project (LA HLPP) at (310) 794-7367 where bilingual, trained advocates will provide a confidential intake. Matters that are appropriate for the ALSP will be referred to the Project Director for follow up assistance.
Los Angeles HIV Law and Policy Project (LA HLPP) Receives State Bar President’s Distinguished Pro Bono Service Award
LACBA AIDS Legal Services Project is one of four law-related organizations that constitute LA HLPP.
Congratulations to the Los Angeles HIV Law and Policy Project (LA HLPP) being named recipient of the State Bar President’s Distinguished Pro Bono Service Award.
As the State Bar website explains: LA HLPP, launched in 2013, is a unique collaboration between LACBA AIDS Legal Services Project (ALSP), Disability Rights Legal Center, Inner City Law Center, and UCLA School of Law.
Shown from left: Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye; LACBA ALSP Project Director Laurie Aronoff; and outgoing State Bar President Craig Holden.
“The collaborative provides access to legal services to people living with HIV and/or AIDS in Los Angeles County. Each entity provides substantial resources and leverages resources of other legal services agencies, pro bono attorneys, and law student volunteers.
“Through operating a centralized intake line, LA HLPP directs eligible clients to meaningful access to legal services to address unmet legal needs in areas of healthcare, housing, immigration and employment. The network of providers includes AIDS Project Los Angeles, Los Angeles LGBT Center, Public Counsel, ACLU of Southern California, Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund, and Bet Tzedek Legal Services, as well as more than twelve major law firms, and numerous solo and small law firm attorneys. In 2014, 85 pro bono attorneys contributed more than 2,600 hours and joined staff attorneys to assist more than 500 clients. Pro bono services included counsel and advice, brief service, and full scope representation in administrative hearings, immigration court, bankruptcy matters, and state, federal and appellate court actions.”
The award was presented on October 9 at an evening Awards Reception in conjunction with the State Bar’s Annual Meeting held this year in Anaheim.